2016 Suspension & Debarment Workshop - Biographies
Monica Aquino-Thieman is the Director of the NASA Office of the General Counsel, Acquisition Integrity Program (AIP). As part of NASA senior leadership, she serves as the Agencyâs lead subject matter expert and primary Agency authority in the substantive law of acquisition integrity, including procurement fraud and other contracting irregularities, grant fraud, public corruption, counterfeit parts, and coordination of fraud remedies. She also serves as Counsel to the NASA Suspending and Debarring Official. Prior to joining NASA, Monica specialized in both litigation and government contracts at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, one of the top ten largest law firms world-wide at the time. She also was a trial and appellate litigation attorney at McKenna & Cuneo LLP, a national law firm in Washington, DC.
Lee Bacon has worked as a Special Agent for the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Small Business Administration for over 16 years. SA Bacon works primarily on contract fraud and loan fraud. SA Baconâs investigations have resulted in criminal, civil, and administrative outcomes.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, SA Bacon has degrees from Indiana University and Florida State University.
Geoffrey A. Cherrington is the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations with the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of State where he is responsible for overseeing worldwide investigations and other law enforcement efforts within the Department of State, the Broadcast Board of Governors, and the International Boundary and Water Commission.
Geoff has served as the Deputy AIGI at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the AIGI at the General Services Administration. Prior to serving in the OIGs of the DOS, GSA, and USDA, Geoff spent 13 years with the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service serving in various positions as a case agent and senior leader. Geoff began his law enforcement career in 1984 with the United States Army and in 1989 became a special agent with the Armyâs Criminal Investigation Command.
Fara Damelin currently serves as Director, Office of Investigations Legal Division for the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General (NSF OIG), and has been an Investigative Attorney with NSF OIG since August 2003. She is responsible for investigating allegations of civil, criminal, and administrative wrongdoing related to NSF programs and operations, including theft and misuse of NSF grant funds. Her responsibilities include referring matters to the United States Department of Justice for civil and criminal prosecution, and making recommendations to NSF for government-wide suspension and debarment actions when warranted.
Prior to joining the NSF OIG staff, Ms. Damelin served for eight years as an employment attorney in the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the General Counsel, representing that agency before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Merit Systems Protection Board. Ms. Damelin received a BA in Political Science from SUNY Binghamton in 1991, and received her JD from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1994. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Maryland, and has been a Certified Fraud Examiner since 2008.
Since 2003, Ken Dieffenbach has served as a special agent with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Fraud Detection Office located in Arlington, Virginia. Ken has served as the lead investigator for dozens of complex and sensitive fraud and internal misconduct investigations and has made well over one hundred presentations about fraud to a wide variety of audiences, including several National Grant Management Association conferences. He is a guest instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centerâs Grant Fraud Investigations Training Program and is a key leader of DOJâs Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Forceâs Grant Fraud Working Group. In his current role, Ken is an Assistant Special Agent in Charge managing an eight person team focused on contract fraud and proactive data analytics projects. Prior to his current position Ken served over six years as an active duty officer special agent with the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Matthew Elliott is the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations (AIGI) at the Department of the Interior (DOI), Office of Inspector General (OIG). Mr. Elliott began his federal career at the National Archives and Records Administration OIG as a criminal investigator. He also served as a Special Agent in Charge at the Government Printing Office OIG before being promoted to the AIGI. He then returned to the National Archives where he also served as the AIGI before becoming the Deputy AIGI at DOI. Prior to his federal service, Mr. Elliott was an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
Travis J. Farris is Counsel to the Inspector General at the Small Business Administration (SBA OIG). In this capacity, he regularly assists with the development of criminal, suspension, debarment, False Claims Act, and Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (PFCRA) cases related to SBA programs. Prior to his current position, Mr. Farris served as an Assistant Counsel with the SBA OIG.
Before working with the SBA OIG, he was an attorney in the Department of Housing and Urban Developmentâs Office of Program Enforcement, where he litigated suspension, debarment, PFCRA and civil money penalty matters in addition to assisting with civil remedies for program integrity violations. Mr. Farris has also been involved with the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) since September 2000.
A native of Burke, Virginia, he received his B.A. in History and English from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and his J.D. from the College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Maritza Hawrey has over 25 years of experience as an auditor with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Audit Services (OAS). She works at the OIG headquarters in Washington, DC and serves as the Headquarters Audit Manager responsible for the Administration for Children and Families and Indian Health Services in the Grants and Internal Activities Division. She has been actively involved in developing and overseeing the implementation of the suspension and debarment process for the OAS and serves as a subject matter expert (SME). As the OAS SME, she has worked on several suspension and debarment referrals based on regional audit work. She works with other OIG components' in coordinating with HHS officials on suspension and debarment matters.
Michael E. Horowitz was confirmed as Inspector General for the Department of Justice (DOJ) by the U.S. Senate on March 29, 2012. He was sworn in as the fourth confirmed Inspector General on April 16, 2012. As Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz oversees a nationwide workforce of more than 400 special agents, auditors, inspectors, attorneys, and support staff whose mission is to detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in DOJ programs and personnel, and to promote economy and efficiency in Department operations.
Mr. Horowitz most recently worked as a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft LLP, where he focused his practice on white collar defense, internal investigations, and regulatory compliance. From 2003 to 2009, Mr. Horowitz served as a presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed Commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Mr. Horowitz previously worked for DOJ in the Criminal Division at Main Justice from 1999 to 2002, first as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and then as Chief of Staff. Prior to joining the Criminal Division, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1991 to 1999. From 1997 to 1999, Mr. Horowitz was the Chief of the Public Corruption Unit, and from 1995 to 1997, he was a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. Before joining the DOJ, Mr. Horowitz was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton and clerked for Judge John G. Davies of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Mr. Horowitz earned his Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Brandeis University.
Rebecca Kanter has been an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorneyâs Office for the Southern District of California for ten years. As a member of the Major Frauds and Special Prosecutions Section, Rebecca is responsible for investigating and prosecuting complex fraud and corruption matters. Rebecca also serves as the Southern Districtâs Procurement Fraud Coordinator and Grant Fraud Point of Contact, responsible for the intake and oversight of cases involving fraud in the government contracting and procurement process. She has been the trial attorney in twenty federal felony trials, authored eighteen circuit appellate briefs and argued numerous times before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ms. Catherine L. Kessmeier is the Assistant General Counsel (Acquisition Integrity) for the Department of the Navy (DON). As a member of the Senior Executive Service, she is responsible for leading, managing, and overseeing the Departmentâs Acquisition Integrity Program and the Acquisition Integrity Office. Ms. Kessmeier is the DONâs Suspending and Debarring Official and has held this position since 2013.
Previously, Ms. Kessmeier served as Deputy Assistant General Counsel (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) for the DON. From 2005 until 2009, she managed and directed the provision of legal services for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) as the Mid-Atlantic Area Counsel and as Counsel for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division. Ms. Kessmeier joined the DON Office of the General Counsel in 1999 as an attorney at the NAVSEA Headquarters, and later served as the subsection head for Civilian Personnel Law and Special Projects at NAVSEA. Prior to her employment with the DON, Ms. Kessmeier worked as an attorney for the Department of Commerce, Office of the General Counsel, where she provided legal support to the Secretariat, its operating units, and the United States Patent & Trademark Office. She began her Federal career as a staff attorney to the Chair of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
Ms. Kessmeier graduated from Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia PA with a B.A. in Political Science, having completed the Interdepartmental Honors Program. She earned her J.D. from the Widener University School of Law, Wilmington, DE, where she served as an Associate Articles Editor for the Widener Law Symposium Journal and as an Executive Board Member of the Moot Court Honor Society.
Joe Kittle is a Staff Associate in the National Science Foundationâs Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA), which resides within the Office of Budget, Finance, and Award Management. Joe has worked in DGA for six years, and he is a warranted grants officer. Before joining the National Science Foundation, Joe served in the Peace Corps in rural Kyrgyzstan and earned a masterâs degree in Business Administration from The George Washington University School of Business.
Allison C. Lerner assumed the duties as Inspector General of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in April 2009. As head of the Office of Inspector General she recommends policies for promoting economy, efficiency and effectiveness of NSF programs and operations. She leads efforts to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse; improve the integrity of NSF programs and operations; and investigate allegations of misconduct in science. Prior to becoming Inspector General at NSF, Ms. Lerner served in leadership positions at the Department of Commerce, including Counsel to the Inspector General.
In January 2015, Ms. Lerner was appointed to serve as Vice Chairperson for the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). The Council is an independent Federal entity whose mission is to address integrity, economy, and effectiveness issues that transcend individual Government agencies. To accomplish its mission, CIGIE continually identifies, reviews, and discusses areas of vulnerability in Federal programs and operations with respect to fraud, waste, and abuse.
Ms. Lerner has received several national awards for excellence. Ms. Lerner received her law degree and her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas.
Steve A. Linick was appointed as the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors in September 2013. Prior to this appointment, he served for three years as the first Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (2010-2013). As Inspector General, Mr. Linick is the senior official responsible for audits, inspections, investigations, and other law enforcement efforts to combat fraud, waste, and abuse within or affecting the operations of the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Mr. Linickâs memberships have included: the Presidentâs Financial Fraud Enforcement Taskforce; the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiencyâs Investigations Committee; the Council of the Inspectors General on Financial Oversight; and the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group.
Mr. Linick was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California (1994-1999) and the Eastern District of Virginia (1999-2006). He also served as Executive Director of the Department of Justiceâs National Procurement Fraud Task Force and Deputy Chief of its Fraud Section, Criminal Division (2006-2010). During his tenure at the Department of Justice, he supervised and participated in prosecution of cases involving, among other things, corruption and contract fraud against the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Linick has a BA (1985) and MA (1990) in Philosophy, and a JD (1990); all from Georgetown University.
As the Chief Suspension and Debarment Hearing Officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lauren Lovett is responsible for the overall management of all suspension and debarment cases referred to the EPA Senior Debarring Official for action. Lauren teaches the National Suspension and Debarment Program course as an instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. She also serves as the EPA Headquarters Grants Competition Dispute Decision Official. In this role, she issues decisions regarding grant applicant competition disputes relating to eligibility and other matters. Prior to this position, she served as the Acting Senior Associate Director for Grants Competition for the EPA Office of Grants and Debarment, the Acting Assistant General Counsel for the EPA Office of General Counsel, Air and Radiation Law Office, Toxics, Consumer Products, and Indoor Air Practice Group, and as an Attorney-Advisor in EPA's Office of General Counsel, Civil Rights and Finance Law Office.
Duc is the Senior Debarring Official at the Environmental Protection Agency and Vice Chair of the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC). His prior positions include Procurement Fraud Remedies Coordinator (Western Region) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Procurement Fraud and Irregularities Coordinator for the U.S. Army Materiel Commandâs (AMC) Acquisition Integrity Program, and lead attorney for contingency contracting at AMC.
Prior to joining the federal civil service, Duc served on active duty in the Armyâs Judge Advocate Generalâs Corps (JAG). His JAG assignments included Associate Counsel (Contracts and Business Law) at AMC, Senior Defense Counsel at Fort Carson, CO, Chief of Military Justice for the 19th Theater Area Support Command (19th TAACOM), Republic of Korea, and Chief of Client Services for the 19th TAACOM. Prior to becoming a JAG, Duc was an Army logistics officer serving as platoon leader, company executive officer, and battalion staff officer with the 2nd Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Duc received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University, his JD from the University of Washington School of Law, and his LLM from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generalâs Legal Center and School. He also expects to receive an LLM in Government Procurement Law from the George Washington University Law School in 2017. Duc is a member of the Washington State Bar.
Director, Office of Recipient Integrity Coordination, Tiffani has over 10 years of public service in the following areas: health policy, program administration, grants administration, and suspension and debarment. She is currently the Director of the Office of Recipient Integrity Coordination, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this position, Tiffani has worked to build a robust and respected Suspension and Debarment (S&D) program for HHS. When not in the office Tiffani enjoys spending time with family.
Mr. Rivest has served as the Chief, Procurement Fraud Division, Office of The Judge Advocate General, U.S. Army since September 2011. He received his B.A. in History (Cum Laude) from Siena College, in Loudonville, NY (1981). Mr. Rivest received his Juris Doctorate from Western New England University School of Law, Springfield, Massachusetts (1984), and was awarded an L.L.M., Military Law (Administrative and Civil Law Specialty) from The Judge Advocate Generalâs Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia (1994). Mr. Rivest served on active duty with the Army Judge Advocate Generalâs Corps from 1985 until his retirement as a Colonel, in 2011. During the course of his military career, Mr. Rivest served in a number of positions to include the Administrative Law Division, Office of The Judge Advocate General (1990-1993), Office of the Army General Counsel (1997-2001), and Chief, Investigations and Legislation Branch, Office of the Chief, Legislative Liaison (2006-2008). Mr. Rivest served as the Staff Judge Advocate for: Ft. Irwin, CA (2001-2003); Ft. Bliss, TX (2003-2006), and Joint Forces Headquarters â National Capitol Region / Military District of Washington (2008-2010).
Mr. Ruben joined the National Science Foundation in May 2015 and currently serves as the Assistant General Counsel and Alternate Designated Agency Ethics Official. Prior to joining NSF, he was a Senior Attorney in the Ethics Law and Program Division at the U.S. Department of Commerce for eight years. He served as an Attorney at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and spent five years in a private litigation practice. He graduated from the Washington College of Law of the American University in Washington, D.C. where he also received a B.A. in Political Science. Mr. Ruben is admitted to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Mr. Russell joined the Management Directorate in 2011 as the Senior Counselor to the Under Secretary for Management. Mr. Russell also serves as the Suspension and Debarment Official for DHS and as the final Administrative Grievance Official for DHS HQ. Mr. Russell also serves a critical role concerning the formation of: delegations; directives; and instructions; and conference approvals.
Mr. Russell joined DHS in 2003 as an Attorney Advisor and de facto Acting Deputy Associate General Counsel until the arrival of the Associate General Counsel in January 2004. Mr. Russell was selected as DHSâ first Appropriations Counsel in July 2004 and promoted to the Senior Level. Mr. Russell was promoted into the Senior Executive Service in 2006 as the Deputy Associate General Counsel for General Law.
Mr. Russell earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Birmingham-Southern College. He graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law, and earned a Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College. Mr. Russell is licensed to practice law in Alabama.
Mr. Russell received a commission through the Graduate Law Program of the Air Force Reserve Officersâ Training Corps (ROTC), and was appointed a Judge Advocate. He served approximately five years on active duty, with duty assignments in Texas and Alaska. He served as a reserve Judge Advocate for sixteen years, primarily at the legal office at Headquarters, Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Mr. Russell served as a civilian attorney in the Coast Guard for 12 years during which he served as a senior attorney in the Office of Claims and Litigation, the Deputy Chief, and later the Chief of the Coast Guardâs Office of General Law. He next served as the Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Defense Education Activity, the position he left to join the Department of Homeland Security.
Parisa Salehi is the Counsel to the Acting Inspector General of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. As part of the Management team she provides overall direction to the teams of auditors, investigators, and inspectors responsible for improving the programs and operations of EXIM Bank and preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse. Before joining EXIM Bank, she served at the United States Depart of Agriculture for nearly 5 years. She directed the Appeals, Litigation, Suspension and Debarment program for Risk Management Agency within the Department of Agriculture. She was the recipient of the Presidential Award and Administratorâs Award for her role at Risk Management Agency. During this time, Ms. Salehi also worked as an Adjunct Professor of Law, at Howard University School of Law. Ms. Salehi worked for prominent and large law firms prior to joining the Federal Government.
Derek B. Santos serves as the Assistant Deputy General Counsel for Contractor Responsibility and Conflict Resolution (SAF/GCR). Under the oversight of the Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Santos supervises SAF/GCRâs programs in procurement fraud remedies, suspension and debarment, acquisition integrity, and negotiations and conflict management.
Mr. Santos also serves as the Director of the Procurement Fraud Remedies Office. In this capacity he is responsible for the management of all significant Air Force procurement fraud cases and coordination with the Department of Justice and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Mr. Santos is Co-Chair of the Department of Defense Procurement Fraud Working Group.
David M. Sims has over 36 yearsâ federal legal experience. In addition to his DOI position, he also chairs the U.S. Government's Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee. Prior to joining DOI in 2009, Mr. Sims served in several capacities at EPA: as Hearing Official for the Suspension and Debarment Program; Acting EPA Debarring Official: Acting Director of EPAâs Suspension and Debarment Division; and EPA Headquarters Grants Competition Disputes Decision Official. Mr. Sims also performed twelve years of environmental enforcement, grants, procurement and general law practice in EPA's Region V Office of Regional Counsel, Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Sims is a recipient of a Council of Inspectors General Integrity and Efficiency Award; National Aeronautics and Space Agency, Acquisition Integrity Program Commendation for consultation in developing NASA's debarment program; DOIâs Office of Inspector General Individual Excellence Award; and EPA's Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals for contributions to EPAâs debarment program, and Bronze Medal for contributions to the resolution of precedent setting EPA assistance award disputes. Mr. Sims earned his Juris Doctor at the University of Illinois, College of Law. He is admitted to practice law in the Illinois Supreme Court, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the US Court of International Trade, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lafe Solomon was appointed in September, 2014 as Senior Labor Compliance Advisor in the Office of the Solicitor, Department of Labor, to lead the implementation of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, signed by President Obama on July 31, 2014. He transferred to the Department of Labor from the National Labor Relations Board, where he had spent his professional career, including serving as Acting General Counsel from June, 2010 to November, 2013.
A native of Helena, Arkansas, Mr. Solomon received a B.A. degree in Economics from Brown University in 1970 and a J.D. from Tulane University in 1976.
As Director, Office of Acquisition and Property Management and Senior Procurement Executive, Debra Sonderman is responsible for policy development and oversight of the Department of the Interiorâs extensive acquisition, financial assistance, facility, and property management programs. She also serves as Interiorâs Suspending and Debarring Official.
Ms. Sonderman has held a variety of acquisition and business positions with the Departments of the Interior, the Treasury and the Navy, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Ms. Sonderman has been honored twice with the Presidential Rank Award â Meritorious Executive. A graduate of the Catholic University of America, Ms. Sonderman has completed the Senior Managers in Government program at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and the George Washington University Masterâs Certificate in Project Management. She is a member of the National Contract Management Association and the Senior Executives Association.
Stanley Stocker is the Debarment Program Manager for the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI OIG). His role is to provide subject matter expertise for the DOI OIG in the area of suspension and debarment. He has over 20 years of legal experience including public and private practice with most of his career service with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a hearing officer for suspension and debarment. He is a Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional. Stanley holds a B.A. degree, cum laude, in anthropology from Amherst College, and a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School.
Ms. Tingle serves as Assistant Director, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch (Fraud Section). She joined DOJ's Civil Fraud Section in 1999. The Civil Fraud Section enforces the civil False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 3729-3733, including cases filed by private relators under the qui tam provisions of the statute. Her practice focuses primarily on procurement fraud cases. Ms. Tingle also served five years as a trial attorney in DOJ's National Courts Section representing the United States in contract claims cases, bid protests and other matters, and was in private practice before joining DOJ.
Adam Townshend is an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and both the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Coordinator and Civil Health Care Fraud Coordinator, at the U.S. Attorneyâs Office for the Western District of Michigan. While Adam handles primarily civil cases, he also prosecutes criminal white collar fraud cases on occasion. Adam joined the U.S. Attorneyâs Office in 2010.
Lori Vassar has over 30 years of legal experience with the Federal Government. Previously, she held positions as an attorney/adviser on international claims and investment disputes with the Office of Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State; the Deputy General Counsel to the Inspector General, General Services Administration; Counsel to the Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Treasury; and Director of Operations for the Recovery Oversight Office, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior. She currently oversees the Administrative Remedies Division, which is responsible for suspension, debarment, and Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act referrals. Lori is an Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) Vice-Chair.
Lori graduated with distinction as an Echols Scholar from the University of Virginia and holds a law degree from the American University. She is a Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional and a Certified Fraud Examiner.
Cathy Votaw is Co-Director of Contingency Operations Oversight at the Department of State Office of the Inspector General. In April 2015, Ms. Votaw retired from the Justice Department as the Director of Procurement Fraud Litigation for the Criminal Division, Fraud Section. From 1984 to 2009, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, holding positions as Chief, Health Care Fraud, Government Fraud, and Environmental Crimes; Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney; and Deputy Chief, Civil Division. She came to the Justice Department from a federal clerkship following two years in private practice. Ms. Votaw graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Swarthmore College.