United States attorney Stephen J. Cox has announced that it will step down as a US attorney for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX). The resignation took effect on Tuesday January 19th.
“The opportunity to serve as the US attorney for the Eastern District of Texas was a special honor and privilege that I will forever be grateful for,” said Cox. “The opportunity to serve the people of the great state of Texas and to work with the fine men and women in our office has been downright humbling.”
During Cox’s tenure at EDTX, the district increased its focus on complex fraud cases and employee relationship enforcement, with a special focus on health, financial and antitrust crimes, and adopted new corporate enforcement guidelines promoting transparency, good governance and fairness are important.
He also launched a new cross-border elderly fraud initiative targeting international crime rings against seniors. Formed new partnerships and strike forces with law enforcement partners to leverage expertise and increase referrals, and initiated a new violent crime enforcement flash to prevent gun crimes from rising in Port Arthur and the Golden Triangle.
Other initiatives included the creation of new public-private partnerships to facilitate the exchange of information and the development of a new governance structure to implement specialized areas of activity and to improve opportunities for collaboration and advice across the district.
Cox joined the Justice Department in early 2017 when he served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General (OASG), overseeing five major process components, three grant award components, and a number of other components overseeing civil justice offices.
Cox led numerous policy reforms related to corporate enforcement and regulatory reforms and oversaw several departmental matters related to financial fraud and healthcare fraud.
He has also served as vice-chairman of the Assistant Attorney General’s Working Group on Corporate Enforcement and Accountability and Executive Director of the Division’s Regulatory Reform Task Force.
In May 2020, after more than three years in the OASG, including as Chief of Staff, former Attorney General William Barr appointed Cox as US Attorney for EDTX, effective June 1. On September 28, he was appointed a US attorney by the court after receiving the unanimous approval of active and senior district judges.
Cox was very focused on finding new ways to leverage the talented staff in the office. Since arriving, EDTX has made some significant changes to the structure of the office, moving staff between departments, adding new employees, and creating new roles to better serve their mission.
For example, in the crime department, Cox identified specialized areas of activity and appointed deputy chiefs to oversee these new areas across the district.
The new structure now leverages the expertise of these deputy bosses in some of their most specialized cases, creating a horizontal structure that enables unprecedented collaboration between all offices.
Under Cox’s leadership, EDTX also increased its enforcement capabilities and strengths through the new workforce structure, more targeted recruiting and staffing, new and improved law enforcement partnerships, and new corporate enforcement guidelines.
For example, EDTX recruited two new employee AUSAs, worked with the crime department to embed three Healthcare Strike Force prosecutors in EDTX, and recruited new SAUSAs with experience as employees.
EDTX signed a pandemic recovery letter of intent with the Inspector General to increase the focus on COVID-related fraud. joined the Gulf Coast Strike Force to increase healthcare fraud capacity and joined the Procurement Collusion Strike Force to intensify efforts to protect competition in the procurement market.
Cox launched a new transnational elderly fraud initiative and hired a senior executive on the executive team.
The aim of the initiative is to rethink the fight against older fraud using the same tactics and tools that EDTX uses to exterminate transnational drug cartels in order to decimate the criminal transnational syndicates that persecute seniors.
EDTX set up three separate financial investigation groups to work with law enforcement agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of suspicious activity reports that identified financial transactions potentially related to elderly fraud.
EDTX has entered into an open, working dialogue with some of the world’s largest banks to share information and encourage better referrals. EDTX participated in the Justice Department’s Money Mule initiative with great results. Money mules are the lifeblood of these international fraud rings, and EDTX has identified and disrupted at least 13 money mules through interviews, warning letters and criminal charges.
EDTX is also working with retailers and grocers in Texas to find out what to look for if they suspect that a large gift card purchase is being used to facilitate money laundering. Eventually, EDTX expanded its partnerships with the Consumer Protection Department, the Criminal Police Department, and the Federal Trade Commission, resulting in increased referrals from senior scammers.
Cox borrowed a page from his work at Primary Justice and recently announced that EDTX officially approved the latest corporate enforcement guidelines the department has put in place over the past four years to remove doubts as to whether they are in EDTX were applied.
The guidelines address a wide range of employee enforcement issues related to company decisions, prosecution discretion, third party payments, voluntary disclosure, collaboration, guidance, credit accumulation, agency coordination, compliance programs, and company monitoring and the ability to do so Numbers. Cox directed several of these policies while at the OASG and assisted others in his capacity as vice chair of the Assistant Attorney General’s Working Group on Corporate Enforcement and Accountability.
Cox oversaw the investigation and secured indictment or conviction on numerous significant cases, including a Beaumont church bomber; Jefferson County residents allegedly involved in the illegal distribution of butanediol, commonly known as a “date rape drug,” nationwide; a Church pastor hired to produce child pornography; the seizure of fake tech support websites used to defraud Amazon customers; a Collin County man facing COVID fraud allegations over paycheck-related fraud; Liberty County residents allegedly running a CARES fraud program that includes catastrophe loans for economic violations; Individuals allegedly involved in multi-million dollar cross-border money laundering aimed at fraud against the elderly; an al-Qaeda-trained jihadist was sentenced to 300 months for conspiracy to recruit terrorists to kill Americans on behalf of ISIS; Members and staff of the Aryan Circle gang charged with extortion conspiracy, including murder and violent crimes in support of extortion, including assault and kidnapping; a Collin County man convicted of cyber fraud and money laundering victimizing senior citizens, school districts and charities; conviction of a Jefferson County doctor for healthcare fraud and backlash violations related to compound scar creams; and the sentencing of a dark web cannibal to 40 years for violating child exploitation.
Under Cox’s leadership, the civil litigation practice in EDTX has had significant and numerous achievements in all aspects of civil practice, including its efforts to enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), False Claims Act (FCA), Civil Forfeiture, and its own Defense practice, defense of federal employees and agencies sued in federal court.
The United States filed for and received a preliminary injunction (TRO) under the CSA banning Defendants Jake’s Fireworks and Right Price Chemicals from continuing operations because Jake’s Fireworks was a drug-related building.
EDTX also played an important role in negotiating a settlement for $ 48 million in the US ex rel. Magee v Texas Heart Hospital of the Southwest et al., 4: 16-cv-00717 (ED Tex.), To clear allegations that the Texas Heart Hospital of the Southwest and its wholly owned subsidiary violated the Doctors’ Referral Act and the Anti – Kickback statute.
EDTX continued its commitment to use the FCA to hold individuals, not just corporations, accountable for fraud in the United States, and partnered with Bibi Tasleyma Sattar, DO and her medical office for $ 210,000 for violations of the anti Kickback Bill picks up a similar settlement of $ 368,325.00 with Joseph Rizzo, MD, and a settlement of $ 281,524 with Jason Bourque, also for kickback violations.
EDTX also opened civil forfeiture proceedings against Fahad Shah, who had fraudulently filed fraudulent claims for over $ 3 million in credit under the Small Business Authority’s paycheck protection program, but diverted the funds for his personal use.
After Cox’s departure, Nicholas Ganjei, a federal attorney and EDTX’s first US assistant attorney, will serve as the acting US attorney. Ganjei will become the first Persian-American in the district’s 174-year history to serve as EDTX’s U.S. attorney (acting or otherwise).
“I expect a seamless transition,” said Cox. “Nick and I worked hand in hand to set these office priorities and kick off our signature initiatives. Although I hand over the torch, I’m curious to see where Nick and the executive team will take the office next. “
Cox will return to the private sector and announce his next role in the coming months. In the meantime, Cox plans to spend time with the family looking through a few bucket list items, including sightseeing, camping, and touring the country.