Crime - Sacto 911

Justice Department lauds 2 federal prosecutors in Sacramento

Jean Hobler and Lee Bickley of Sacramento were among federal prosecutors from 44 of the nation’s judicial districts who were recognized Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice for outstanding achievement.

Hobler and Bickley were cited for the prosecution of Anthony Vassallo, whose Ponzi scheme was one of the largest in the history of the Eastern District of California.

Investors sunk more than $80 million into Vassallo’s swindle and lost more than half of it. The case, involving dozens of investment funds and more than 400 victims, was prepared for trial by Hobler, Bickley and investigating agents. Hobler led protracted and complex plea negotiations.

On Feb. 1, 2013, shortly before trial and four years after he was charged, Vassallo, 35, of Folsom, pleaded guilty. He was sentenced in June last year to 16 years in prison, and was later ordered to pay more than $43 million in victim restitution. Co-conspirator Kenneth Kenitzer 71, of Pleasanton, pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier this year to six years in prison.

“You represent the very best that this department has to offer,” Attorney General Eric Holder told the honorees in a presentation ceremony in Washington, D.C. “Your work embodies our ongoing commitment not merely to win cases, but to do justice, to protect our fellow citizens from crime, violence, and terrorism, to empower the most vulnerable among us, and to uphold the rule of law.”