Government Regulatory Prosecutions for August 2023
Number Latest Month
Percent Change from previous month
Percent Change from 1 year ago
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Government Regulatory Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2023 the government reported 78 new government regulatory prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 9.3 percent over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with government regulatory-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 1).
When monthly 2023 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was up (3.2%).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 43.5 percent from levels reported in 2018.
The dip in
these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases
are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall decrease in
government regulatory prosecutions is 33 percent instead of 43.5 percent.
The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases
by the Justice Department.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Government Regulatory Prosecutions
The decrease from the levels five years ago in government regulatory prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of government regulatory prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month
basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court,
the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends.
The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Within the broad category of government regulatory, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Case types within government regulatory are
Counterfeiting and Forgery
Customs Violations - Duty
Customs Violations - Currency
Energy Pricing and Related Fraud
Health and Safety Violations - Employees
Health and Safety Violations - General Public
Trafficking in Contraband Cigarettes
Energy Violations - Nuclear Waste Issues
Money Laundering/Structuring (Narcotics)
Money Laundering/Structuring (Other)
Export Enforcement General
Other Government Regulatory Offenses
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in August 2023 was for "Money Laundering-Drug", accounting for 37.2 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Money Laundering-Other" (23.1%), "Other-Regulatory Offenses" (23.1%), "Counterfeiting and Forgery" (7.7%), "Customs-Currency Violations" (2.6%), "Export Enforcement General" (2.6%), "Health and Safety Violations-Employees" (2.6%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for government regulatory prosecutions in August 2023
was DHS accounting for 46 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of government regulatory referrals were:
Postal (14% ), Justice Other (12%), FBI (10%), Veteran (6%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Government Regulatory Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In August 2023, 20 defendants in government regulatory cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts.
These courts handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In
addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before
an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter
starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court
where subsequent proceedings take place.
In the magistrate courts in August the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 18 U.S.C Section 19 involving "Petty Offense Defined". This was the lead charge
for 20 percent of all magistrate filings in August.
Government Regulatory Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In August 2023, 58 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there
were an additional 7 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate
courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information
was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and
therefore cover all matters filed in district court during August.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of government regulatory matters
filed in U.S. District Court during August 2023.
The Southern District of Texas (Houston) — with 19 prosecutions — was the most active during August 2023.
The District of Puerto Rico ranked 2nd.
Central District of California (Los Angeles) is now ranking 3rd.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new government regulatory crime cases of this type during August 2023 are shown in Table 4.
All 17 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of government regulatory filings. (Because of ties, there were a total of 17 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge Keith P. Ellison in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 1st with 18 defendants in government regulatory cases.
Judge John F. Walter in the Central District of California (Los Angeles) ranked 2nd with 11 defendants in government regulatory cases.
Judge Cheryl R. Zwart in the District of Nebraska ranked 3rd with 2 defendants in government regulatory cases.