Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office Celebrates U.S. Attorney’s Awards

Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office Celebrates U.S. Attorney’s Awards

The United States Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Awards Ceremony was celebrated this afternoon in New Haven.  The ceremony at the City of New Haven’s aldermanic chambers recognized approximately 190 individuals for their investigative efforts and other contributions to 30 significant federal criminal prosecutions and civil cases in Connecticut since 2019.  The awards ceremony, typically an annual event, has not been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During a time when the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of world to a standstill, the awardees we honor today, and countless other members of federal, state and local enforcement agencies, found a way to continue their critical work, often at great risk to their own health and safety, to ensure that the wheels of justice never stopped turning,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery.  “Their important work has positively impacted communities across our state.  They have served Connecticut and our nation with distinction, and we are proud to call them ‘partners.’”

In addition to the criminal and civil case awards, U.S. Attorney Avery presented several special awards during the ceremony.

The U.S. Attorney’s Award for Outstanding Investigator was presented to recently-retired Special Agent James Wines of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who distinguished himself as an invaluable criminal investigator with the FBI Cellular Analysis Survey Team (“CAST”).  Special Agent Wines provided critical cell site analysis and testimony in numerous federal and state investigations and prosecutions, including 28 murder trials in Connecticut and neighboring states.

The U.S. Attorney’s Award for Outstanding Partnership was presented to Supervisory Attorney Patrick Ward and Senior Staff Attorneys Robert Ziemiecki and Stephanie Scannell-Vessella of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  Attorneys Ward, Ziemicki and Scannell-Vessella have worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to defend litigation, including an 850-member class action, brought by medically-vulnerable inmates at FCI Danbury during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Attorney’s Outstanding Community Award was presented to Stacy Spell for his superior service as the New Haven Project Manager of Project Longevity, a statewide group violence reduction initiative, and his prior work as a long-time member of the New Haven Police Department and as a community activist.

The Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit Award was presented to a team of investigators from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) whose work led to the successful prosecution of Farouq Fasasi and several associates in Connecticut who were involved in lottery scams and romance fraud scams that defrauded primarily elderly victims across the country of more than $5 million.  Fasasi and five others were convicted of various charges stemming from the schemes and, in August 2022, Fasasi was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.

The Major Crimes Unit Award was given to members of the Town of Groton Police Department, FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), who jointly investigated Randall Tilton, a U.S. Navy mechanic who sexually assaulted seven infants and children over an eight-year period, and produced videos and images of his sexual abuse.  In June 2021, Tilton was sentenced to 210 years of imprisonment.

The Violent Crimes and Narcotics Unit Award was presented an FBI special agent and FBI Task Force Officers from the New Haven Police Department and Milford Police Department who led “Operation Fantasy Island,” an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation targeting members and associates of the Island Brothers gang.  The Island Brothers trafficked heroin, crack and cocaine in both the New Haven region and the area of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and engaged in violence to protect its turf.  Twenty-Five individuals were convicted of various drug and firearm offenses as a result of the investigation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charged with enforcing federal criminal laws in Connecticut and representing the federal government in civil litigation.  The Office is composed of approximately 68 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 57 staff members at offices in New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford.

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