New Federal Prosecutors to Focus on Corporate Fraud in California

Times Staff Writer

Eight new federal prosecutors devoted to corporate fraud cases will be assigned to California, nearly one-quarter of the total being added to U.S. attorney's offices across the nation this year, Justice Department officials said Monday.

The department said in a news release that it would add four lawyers to the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco, along with two financial analysts and three support workers, a category including paralegals and courtroom technicians.

Federal officials said the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles would grow by three attorneys, who would focus on accounting fraud, insider trading and obstruction-of-justice cases, along with four new support workers and one financial analyst.

Federal prosecutors in San Diego said one fraud lawyer and one support person would be added there. It couldn't be determined whether the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento would receive any additional staff.

The fiscal 2003 Justice Department budget included funds for 35 new assistant U.S. attorneys to tackle corporate fraud.

Although federal prosecutors in New York historically have handled the most securities fraud cases, Los Angeles and San Francisco also have federal attorneys working on corporate cases. After Enron Corp.'s collapse and other scandals swept the nation in 2001, Assistant U.S. Attys. Kevin Ryan in San Francisco and Debra Yang in Los Angeles were named to a presidential task force on corporate prosecutions.

The prosecutors also have begun working closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission on all major accounting fraud and insider trading cases.

In San Francisco, the four new prosecutors will join nine working in the office's securities fraud section. Patrick D. Robbins, chief of the unit, said the additions reflected Northern California's importance as a technology hub and headquarters for numerous large companies.

The additional lawyers in Los Angeles will be part of the major fraud unit, which currently has about 25 prosecutors assigned to duties including securities fraud.

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