Pledging to build on the success of the U.S. Attorney's Violent Crime Initiative, Hogsett vowed to expand efforts in the areas of white-collar fraud and public corruption.
"The year 2011 was a banner year for the U.S. Attorney's Office," Hogsett told the Banner Graphic. "We announced early last year that we were prioritizing our prosecution of violent criminals who illegally possess guns in our community, and I am proud of the results our Violent Crime Initiative produced in its first nine months."
Announced by Hogsett last March, the initiative represents a comprehensive district-wide strategy to combat drug traffickers and criminals that use and carry firearms in their illegal activities through improved local collaboration and aggressive federal prosecution.
Working with local law enforcement and county prosecutors, the U.S. Attorney's Office is able to identify the "worst of the worst" in Hoosier communities and bring federal charges against them.
In the first nine months of the initiative, the VCI produced a dramatic increase in the number of gun-related charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office -- from just 14 felony firearms possession charges in 2010 to 103 last year. Drug-trafficking indictments were up more than 100 percent last year, and drug-trafficking seizures increased seven-fold over 2009 numbers.
"I believe we have a serious obligation on behalf of the public to try and 'do more with less' whenever possible," Hogsett said. "That's why I'm proud that throughout the last year we were able to improve and expand our office's law enforcement efforts without spending one penny more."
In addition, total criminal and civil collections for the U.S. Attorney's Office -- fines and penalties levied on those who violated federal law -- exceeded $16 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office's collection of $16,242,812.48 in FY 2011 more than doubled operating expenditures of $7,850,100.
The figure also included $6,667,225 in federal asset forfeitures, which are used to both support victim assistance programs and directly fund local law enforcement efforts in Hoosier communities.
Hogsett emphasized that the millions of dollars collected by the U.S. Attorney's Office will have a lasting impact for years to come.
"Throughout 2011, dozens of law enforcement agencies received funding from these forfeitures to strengthen their local efforts," he said. "As I said all last year, it is always a good day when we can have drug dealers paying for public safety efforts rather than Hoosier taxpayers."
Hogsett said that his office would continue these efforts in 2012, and discussed the federal prosecution priorities for the coming year, including:
-- Violent Crime Initiative: Hogsett vowed to continue building on results produced during the first nine months of the initiative. In 2011, Hogsett traveled to all 60 counties in the Southern District, meeting with law enforcement officials and discussing the benefits of federal prosecution when dealing with habitual violent offenders.
Hogsett said that he believed that such outreach was responsible for the exponential increase in gun prosecutions by his office, and that he expected that 2012 would see even more "worst of the worst" elements removed from Hoosier communities.
"Working together with law enforcement here in Putnam County and across the state, we're making progress with this Initiative," Hogsett added. "As I've said, I'm not interested in long meetings or bureaucratic titles -- just results."
-- Law Enforcement Safety: Last year saw a 23 percent increase in gun-related law enforcement fatalities across the country. Three-fourths of those shooting deaths were the result of ambush-style attacks. Indiana was not immune, with both Officer David Moore of Indianapolis and Officer Brent Long of Terre Haute killed in the line of duty.
Hogsett pointed to the federal prosecution of six individuals in Terre Haute -- all of whom faced charges ranging from providing false statements to illegally selling the firearm used in the shooting -- as an indication of his office's dedication to aggressively prosecuting any individual who targets law enforcement or assists someone who engages in such activity.
"Our policy on attacking law enforcement is very simple: Zero tolerance," Hogsett noted. "It doesn't matter if you pull the trigger or simply help the individual that does, you will be held responsible for your criminal acts."
-- Public Corruption: The coming year will also see an expanded focus on issues of government corruption and public integrity. In the last few months, the U.S. Attorney's Office has concluded the prosecution of one Indianapolis City-County councilor who was found guilty of soliciting a bribe, and begun the prosecution of another on charges of fraud.
Hogsett said that 2012 would see a renewed emphasis on investigating and prosecuting these crimes. "I don't care what your politics are or who you know," he said. "If you violate the public trust, this office will investigate you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."
-- White-Collar Fraud: Hogsett also discussed an effort in 2012 to root out what he described as a "culture of corruption" in Indiana. Last year saw high-profile indictments of Tim Durham and Keenan Hauke, both of whom are alleged to have used Ponzi schemes to bilk Hoosiers out of millions of dollars.
Hogsett has directed his office to redouble its efforts to target so-called "white-collar offenses" in an effort to protect Hoosier investors and ensure that tax dollars are not being defrauded.
"These efforts are critical if we are to restore faith in our financial industry," he said. "In the coming year we will be doing all we can to fight such corruption while reducing waste and fraud in all levels of government."