U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin Announces His Departure
(STL.News) United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today that he has submitted his resignation as United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, effective February 28, 2021. Mr. Fremin was appointed by President Donald J. Trump to the position of United States Attorney in February 2018.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “Serving our nation, our state, and our community as the United States Attorney has been the highest honor of my career as a prosecutor. I will always remain grateful for being entrusted with the awesome responsibility of leading an office of the highest caliber attorneys and support staff, who have earned a great reputation for fairness, diligence, and honesty in the pursuit of justice. The success of the office belongs to them, and they have my admiration and respect. I also wish to thank our many law enforcement partners on the local, state, and federal levels, whose tireless and unwavering dedication to public safety were critical in striving to achieve our common goal of making our communities safer.”
As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Fremin’s priorities have been protecting Americans from terrorism and threats to national security as well as combating violent crime, cyber threats, the opioid epidemic, and fighting healthcare and disaster fraud. Protecting the country’s most vulnerable – children, the elderly, and victims of exploitation – has also been a focus of Mr. Fremin’s office.
As the chief federal law enforcement officer in the Middle District of Louisiana, Mr. Fremin oversaw the investigation and prosecution of all federal criminal violations within the district . Under Mr. Fremin’s leadership, the Criminal Division has aggressively fought violent crime by pursuing violent offenders. In his first year in office, these efforts resulted in an increase in the prosecution of gun cases of 103% compared to the average of the prior four years and in the following year, 2019, resulted in an increase of 176% in gun case convictions compared to the average of the prior four years. Relationships with state, local, and community leaders and law enforcement agencies were strengthened, and through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), Mr. Fremin led his office to amplify efforts in removing violent criminals from the streets. In one operation alone, 43 offenders were prosecuted, one of the largest such prosecutions in the history of the district, and in various other operations, major drug traffickers and violent criminals were sent to federal prison with large sentences of 300 months, 360 months, 384 months, and life.
Mr. Fremin’s tenure as the United States Attorney was not without challenges. Among them were the longest government shutdown in American history; nationwide civil unrest, riots, and violence; and a viral pandemic unlike any other since 1918. Despite the challenges, the Middle District continued to obtain successful results. With the Department of Justice committed to strengthening efforts to reduce gun violence, Mr. Fremin oversaw the implementation of two new DOJ initiatives. The first to launch was Project Guardian, a nationwide initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws through information-sharing and enforcing gun prohibitions based on domestic violence convictions and mental health denials. Under this initiative, a Baton Rouge man was convicted of multiple firearms violations, including possession of a firearm by a person adjudicated as a mental defective in the first federal trial in the Middle District during COVID-19 restrictions. The second initiative, focusing on domestic violence, was launched in 2020 and was implemented to work with state and local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to generate domestic violence referrals involving firearms. Mr. Fremin and his office, along with local District Attorneys, were at the forefront of this initiative, creating educational materials for distribution and conducting a statewide CLE training on the federal response to domestic violence crimes to generate more federal referrals in Louisiana. Additionally, during Mr. Fremin’s tenure, Baton Rouge was designated as one of ten new National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) sites, whose goal was to focus on areas with elevated violent crime rates. Mr. Fremin and his office collaborated with local leadership in areas such as data collection and analysis; violence reduction initiatives; crime-science research findings; and ways to enhance partnerships in the community to reduce violence and increase public safety.
Under Mr. Fremin’s direction, white collar criminals were vigorously prosecuted. Among them included one of the largest healthcare prosecutions in our district involving a genetic testing scheme with a loss of $240 million to Medicare. This prosecution was in concert with four other federal districts engaged in a sweeping federal law enforcement action that resulted in charges in five federal districts against 35 defendants associated with dozens of telemedicine companies and cancer genetic testing laboratories for their alleged participation in one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever charged. According to the charges, these defendants fraudulently billed Medicare more than $2.1 billion nationally for these tests. Other white collar prosecutions included the former President of Our Lady of the Lake Foundation for wire fraud and money laundering and a former Southern University band director for embezzlement. Mr. Fremin’s tenure also saw the prosecution and sentencing of a Florida man sentenced to 121 months for an investment fraud scheme involving Baton Rouge area victims, all of whom were elders, and which resulted in the forfeiture of nearly $4 million in assets through seizures including over $2 million in a Swiss Bank account, all of which has been returned to the victims; the conviction and sentencing (144 months) of a Baton Rouge man for multi-million dollar bank and wire fraud schemes; the conviction of a financial adviser sentenced to 168 months in federal prison for stealing $1.1 million from elderly investors; and the conviction and sentencing of a Zachary man to 195 months for production of child pornography.
Throughout his time as the United States Attorney, Mr. Fremin was committed to the prosecution of those persons who violated the civil rights of others, including the conviction of a former major at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for beating a handcuffed and shackled inmate. Recently, the Middle District joined forces with the U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in D.C. for a civil investigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) into the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections’ prisoner release practices and policies.
Under Mr. Fremin’s leadership, the office’s commitment to law enforcement and our communities went beyond the courtroom. During his tenure, the U.S. Attorney’s law enforcement community outreach program sponsored and conducted trainings for over 2,400 state and local law enforcement officers from over 105 agencies across the state of Louisiana and beyond. Topics included Gangs and Drugs, Protecting Churches, Officer-Involved Shoots, Opioid/Fentanyl Procedures, Meth Investigations, Jail Gang Intelligence, Pharmaceutical Drug Investigations, Follow the Money, and many, many more.
Mr. Fremin led the Civil Division in fighting healthcare fraud, protecting the interests of the United States, aggressively pursuing the forfeiture of criminal proceeds, and ensuring the collection of millions of dollars in criminal and civil judgments for federal programs and victims of crime. Notable achievements in the Civil Division included a $13.42 million settlement under the False Claims Act with the Louisiana Department of Health; a $2.5 million settlement against home health companies who defrauded the Medicare and Louisiana Medicaid programs; a $1.262 million false claims settlement against Louisiana pediatric dental providers for defrauding Louisiana Medicaid; and the successful resolution of a 40 year old desegregation case in St. Helena Parish. Mr. Fremin’s leadership saw an increase in criminal and civil asset forfeitures and criminal and civil collections, with over $30 million collected by the Civil Division’s Asset Recovery Unit and the majority of that amount returned to victims of crimes.
During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Fremin also served as the Executive Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud (“NCDF”). The NCDF receives and processes disaster fraud-related complaints nationwide and facilitates complaints to the appropriate federal, state, and local investigative agencies. Since March 1, 2018, the NCDF has received and processed over 28,000 disaster-related complaints. Under Mr. Fremin’s leadership, the NCDF quickly engaged in the fight against COVID fraud, as directed by the Attorney General, and has received and processed over 18,000 COVID-related complaints since March 2020. The NCDF team reviewed, identified, and referred a multitude of matters to numerous agencies, including, but not limited to, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Labor – OIG, local authorities, and many other agencies. Under Mr. Fremin’s direction, the NCDF created and launched a web-intake portal to expedite the process for intaking complaints from the public, which has proven instrumental given the volume of matters received.
Mr. Fremin also served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee for Cyber & Intellectual Property, which collaborated with the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys, and other federal components to discuss current trends in cybercrime; and the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee for Civil Rights, which focused on human trafficking, voting rights, and hate crimes. To further hate crime prevention efforts, Mr. Fremin and his office made it a priority to meet with and build relationships with community and religious leaders, understanding the needs and priorities of the community and opening the lines of communication to increase public safety.
“U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin has been instrumental in bringing violent criminals to justice, helping to reduce violent crime rates, and improving cooperation within law enforcement,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Kurt Thielhorn. “It’s been my pleasure to serve with him in our efforts to make our communities safer.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley said, “I would like to thank Mr. Fremin for his relentless friendship and partnership with DEA. With resolve and conviction, Mr. Fremin has successfully led the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Louisiana, all while combatting drug trafficking and the violent crimes associated with it, making our communities safer places to live. Together, DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, have successfully put drug traffickers and violent criminals in prison where they belong.”
“The outstanding partnership that the FBI New Orleans has shared with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Louisiana has resulted in a reduction in violent crime, gang violence, fraud, and public corruption. This is a direct result of the leadership of Mr. Fremin,” stated Special Agent in Charge Bryan Vorndran . “We thank him for his friendship and his unyielding desire to protect our communities and make them safer for the citizens of Louisiana.”
Special Agent in Charge Leslie Pichon of the United States Secret Service New Orleans Field Office, which includes the Middle District of Louisiana said, “Mr. Fremin has been an outstanding partner to the Secret Service and has gone above and beyond to ensure the success of the Secret Service‘s integrated mission; protecting our nation’s leaders and investigating complex cyber enabled financial crimes were executed with the full support and leadership of the United States Attorney. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Mr. Fremin is a career prosecutor who has served the community and his country for many years. Prior to his appointment as the U.S. Attorney, he served as the Director of the Criminal Division for the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General. He has also served as a Criminal Investigator, Assistant District Attorney, and Section Chief in the Office of the District Attorney for the 19th Judicial District of Louisiana and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Louisiana. Mr. Fremin earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, with honors, from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Civil Law and Juris Doctor from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University. Mr. Fremin is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, where he earned the rank of sergeant.