By DAVILYN WALSTON
BEAUMONT, Texas – Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Nicholas J. Ganjei announced today that he will be stepping down from the role of Acting United States Attorney effective November 16th.
“The opportunity to serve the American people as Acting United States Attorney was both an awesome responsibility and a tremendous privilege,” said Mr. Ganjei. “I was incredibly fortunate to have such a skilled team of prosecutors and staff by my side, and I could not have asked for more dedicated and professional law enforcement partners. I am tremendously proud of the work we have done and all that we have accomplished. Together, we made a real difference in the lives of the people of East Texas.”
Mr. Ganjei was named the Acting United States Attorney on January 20, 2021, after previously having served as the district’s First Assistant United States Attorney. As Acting United States Attorney, Mr. Ganjei served as the chief federal law enforcement officer for the district, which includes 43 counties, more than four million people, and stretches across 35,000 square miles from the Oklahoma border to the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Ganjei oversaw a staff of approximately 120 prosecutors, civil litigators, and support personnel across six division offices and was responsible for all federal criminal prosecutions and civil litigation in the district involving the United States. Under his leadership, the Eastern District of Texas advanced a number of Justice Department priorities, from violent crime and cybersecurity to corporate fraud and False Claims Act enforcement. Mr. Ganjei was the first person of color to serve as the United States Attorney (acting or otherwise) in the Eastern District’s 164-year history.
During his tenure, Mr. Ganjei prioritized the prosecution of large-scale drug trafficking organizations, particularly international drug cartels, and oversaw one of the most prolific extradition practices in the nation. Mr. Ganjei’s team successfully extradited, convicted, and obtained a life sentence against a high-ranking member of the Los Zetas cartel who participated in the massacre of an entire Mexican village in 2011; obtained a life sentence against a Guatemalan drug lord who supplied cocaine to cartels and guerilla fighters in Central and South America; and successfully prosecuted an international soccer star for his coordination of bulk drug shipments between Colombia and the United States
Mr. Ganjei also prioritized the investigation and prosecution of complex frauds and white collar crime and increased the office’s staffing and resources devoted to such cases. Under Mr. Ganjei’s leadership, the Eastern District of Texas obtained a 408-month sentence in a multi-million dollar fraud and money laundering scheme that victimized senior citizens and charities; obtained convictions against multiple individuals in connection with a kickback conspiracy related to genetic testing; obtained a sentence of 84 months for a doctor engaged in health care fraud; successfully prosecuted an engineer who fraudulently sought $13 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans; secured a 97-month sentence against a defendant who defrauded an elderly East Texas victim of $4.8 million; successfully prosecuted a wedding planner for fraudulently obtaining more than $3.3 million in PPP loans, and investigated and indicted two defendants for the alleged fraudulent filing of hundreds of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications.
Mr. Ganjei’s team also obtained bribery convictions against a former Richardson, Texas mayor and her land developer husband; disrupted and prosecuted an enormous international black market operation alleged to have trafficked over $100 million in stolen merchandise; convicted a Texas lawyer who swindled his Colombian drug trafficking clients by claiming he had successfully bribed judges and prosecutors; disrupted and prosecuted an alleged multi-scheme fraud conspiracy charged with stealing $17 million through romance scams and business email compromise; successfully prosecuted a Honduran national who solicited the murder-for-hire of family members; obtained a 30-year sentence against a North Texas pastor for the sexual exploitation of children; and obtained RICO convictions against numerous members of a violent white supremacist prison gang.
On the civil side, the Eastern District of Texas recovered more than $44 million for the American taxpayer through Affirmative Civil Enforcement resolutions. In 2021, the Eastern District of Texas concluded four investigations into individual providers, totaling nearly $1 million, relating to the providers’ improper billing for implantable neurostimulators. Additionally, the Eastern District of Texas obtained resolutions in excess of $500,000 with four individual providers as part of its ongoing investigation into payment of kickbacks to induce referrals of advanced cardiac lab tests.
A hallmark of Mr. Ganjei’s time as Acting United States Attorney was the leveraging of agency and law enforcement partnerships. EDTX teamed with the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery as well as the Department of Justice’s Health Care Fraud Strike Force, Civil Frauds Section, Consumer Protection Section, Antitrust Division, and Civil Rights Division, among others, to combat novel criminal and civil legal challenges.
Prior to serving as Acting United States Attorney, Mr. Ganjei was a career prosecutor who handled all manner of federal crimes, having joined the Department of Justice in 2008. Most recently, Mr. Ganjei investigated and prosecuted fraud, public corruption, and other complex white collar matters. Mr. Ganjei also prosecuted organized crime, narcotics, and human trafficking cases. Before joining the Department, Mr. Ganjei clerked for the Honorable Richard Allen Griffin of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Ralph R. Erickson of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (previously of the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota). Mr. Ganjei has additionally taught on the subjects of civil, criminal, and constitutional law, at both the collegiate and law school level.
Leadership responsibilities will be handed off to Brit Featherston, who presently serves as the district’s Executive Assistant United States Attorney.