HOUSTON – Attorney General William P. Barr recognized two
Southern District of Texas (SDTX) employees for their distinguished public
service at the 67th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony today.
This annual ceremony, held in Washington D.C., recognizes
employees and other individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements,
leadership and service to the Department of Justice and the American
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharad Khandelwal and Kate Suh
were recognized along with Department of Justice Trial Attorney Saeed Mody for
the successful prosecution of Marq Vincent Perez.
On Jan. 28, 2017, Perez burned down a mosque in Victoria.
An investigation revealed Perez had broken into the
mosque a week earlier, tried to blow up a car using a homemade bomb, recruited
others to “scope out” other mosques and threatened to burn the mosque down if
it was rebuilt.
The trial commenced for a week and involved testimony
from more than 25 witnesses. The federal jury in Victoria returned guilty
verdicts July 16, 2018, on all counts as charged. They found Perez responsible
for a hate crime in the burning of the mosque, use of fire to commit a felony
and for possessing an unregistered destructive device for an incident that
occurred Jan. 15, 2017.
Observing that this case struck at the heart of what it
means to be an American because it concerned a core right of religious freedom,
the district court sentenced Perez to more
than 24 years in prison.
“Our greatest strength in our fight for justice is our
people – the thousands of men and women who have dedicated their careers, often
at great personal sacrifice, to working for justice in America,” said Barr. “As
we reflect on the contributions of each of the 357 individuals we honor today,
we should hold them up as examples of excellence that continue to inspire our
own commitment, and also as reminders of the professionalism and the qualities
exhibited throughout the Department.”
This year’s program honored individuals across the
department and federal, state, local and tribal partners for their self-less
efforts, protecting national security and civil rights, addressing rising
violent crime in our communities, going after gangs and those trafficking in
dangerous narcotics and human beings. The awards also honor the work of
civil and environmental litigation, which enforces the rule of law and upholds
our Constitution. They also recognize employees whose ideas and efforts save
taxpayer dollars and help our government operate more effectively and efficiently,
among other contributions to public safety and good governance.