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Standout federal prosecutor among those honored by Holder

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

For more than a dozen years, Jim Nobile has won the admiration of allies and foes alike as chief of the Special Prosecutions Division (also known as “Special Pros,” with a soft “o”) of the U.S. Attorney‘s Office for New Jersey.

Martin Luther King Jr. Courthouse, Newark

Small wonder, then, that Nobile was among six members of the office to receive awards today at the Department of Justice’s 27th annual Executive Office for United States Attorneys Director’s Awards Ceremony.

“In an office long distinguished by its aggressive pursuit of public corruption, no single individual has more substantially furthered this critical mission than Mr. Nobile,” New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said earlier today.

Nobile is more than a supervisor, those who know him will tell you. The 47-year-old Hoboken native participates so intently in investigating corruption that, at one point in the prosecution of former Newark Mayor Sharp James, he sprinted a few blocks from his office at the Peter Rodino building in Newark to nearby City Hall to fetch some paperwork.

Still, when asked, he’ll credit every successful prosecution to the Assistant U.S. Attorneys working the cases and the investigators who helped make them happen.

Nobile attended Regis High School, the prestigious Jesuit college prep in Manhattan, and was an intern for the federal judge in Manhattan who presided over the infamous Pizza Connection trial. Trying the highly complex cause against an array of New York City mobsters was Guttenberg’s own Louis Freeh, a fellow Hudson County-ite who went on to become director of the FBI. Watching closely was Nobile.

A career prosecutor, Nobile, of East Rutherford, has headed up the prosecutions of not one but two Hoboken mayors — one of whom, Peter Cammarano, was among those swept up last year in a massive case against nearly 200 public officials caught with their hands in the public’s pocket.

“Public corruption cases are a core part of the Office’s mission in New Jersey, and such cases are often complex and the focus of intense public scrutiny,” Fishman said. “Their successful investigation and prosecution benefit from the knowledge, skill and judgment of a seasoned prosecutor.”

Just about every defendant in the biggest corruption case in state history has either pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial — the notable exception being Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, who was acquitted after a jury determined he didn’t take any money from the government’s star witness, Solomon Dwek, a convicted thief and embezzler who agreed to portray a corrupt developer in exchange for sentencing leniency in his own case.

The convictions, Fishman said, are “a testament to the close oversight and consistent direction [Nobile] provides to every investigation and prosecution.”

Five other members of Fishman‘s office, along with law enforcement agents who made the cases they prosecuted, also received awards today. They were among 159 award recipients from more than 45 districts recognized for their contributions to federal justice.

“That our office is celebrated in so many categories is a testament to the breadth and depth of the talent of our staff,” Fishman said.

Those honored include:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana W. Chen , Criminal Division Chief Nancy Hoppock , and paralegal Camille R. Capaccio – along with Ronald C. Conyers , Joseph D. Salavarria , Angelo L. Valentino , and Rosario Amorim of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations – who received the Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team for their case against a group of criminals convicted of human trafficking, alien smuggling, and visa fraud. Over five years, those convicted forced two dozen African girls, ranging from 10 to 19 years old, into virtual slavery through beatings, voodoo curses, shame, and isolation. The girls worked without pay for 10 to 14 hours each day, seven days a week. But the federal team, working sensitively with traumatized victim-witnesses, secured three pleas, convictions of two defendants in separate jury trials, and nearly $4 million in restitution. The ringleader was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison.

Justin W. Arnold , who was honored with the Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for his prosecution of Wayne Puff and 10 others in a $101 million Ponzi scheme and mortgage fraud. Helping make the case was Arnold’s “quick synthesis of scores of witness interviews and thousands of pages of financial records,” said Fishman, noting that all 11 defendants, including Puff, pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Puff got 18 years.

Glenn J. Moramarco , who also received a Superior Performance award for “his outstanding appellate advocacy in upholding the convictions of six animal rights activists and an organization that terrorized numerous victims throughout the country while claiming First Amendment protection,” Fishman said. As the first-ever prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, which Congress enacted to protect facilities engaged in government-required animal testing from domestic terror threats, the appeal “raised difficult and novel” First Amendment issues. Moramarco “responded to more than 500 pages of defense briefing, extensively researched the legislative and constitutional issues, crafted a brief that persuasively framed the legal issues from the perspective of the victims, and engaged in brilliant oral advocacy before the Court of Appeals – which resulted in an important precedential victory,” Fishman said.

officially received the Director’s Award for Superior Performance in a Managerial or Supervisory Role.

“These award recipients have been honored for their service and dedication to our country, as well as to their local communities,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “Each of these committed public servants has helped to advance the Justice Department’s critical work. Their contributions have had a powerful impact in ensuring the strength of our justice system, the security of our communities, and the promise of our democracy.”

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