Kevin V. Ryan

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Kevin V. Ryan
Kevin Ryan.jpg
Born 1957
Alberta, Canada
Education Bachelor of Arts History, Dartmouth College. Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Occupation Criminal Justice Director
Employer City of San Francisco

Kevin V. Ryan (born October 24, 1957) is the founding principal of The Law Offices of Kevin V. Ryan and an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Ryan served as both the Director of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and as a Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Gavin Newsom for two years.

Prior to his tenure in San Francisco's City Hall, Ryan was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, a Municipal and Superior Court Judge, a Deputy District Attorney and a litigation partner in a notable law firm, Allen Matkins.

Ryan was one of the United States Attorneys who resigned in 2007 in what would be subsequently described by some as a public fiasco at the Department of Justice.

Education and background[edit]

Ryan was born in Alberta Canada to the son of an Irish immigrant. He graduated from Saint Ignatius College Preparatory, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Dartmouth College, and received his Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law.[1]

Ryan began his legal career in California as a prosecutor with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. While in the District Attorney's Office, he handled a variety of cases including homicides and violent gang prosecutions.

In 1996, while serving as a member of the Violent Gang Suppression Unit, Ryan was appointed by Governor Pete Wilson to serve as a Judge on the San Francisco Municipal Court.


In 1998, Ryan was re-elected, winning by the highest percentage in any of the five contested judicial races. His base of support included the endorsements of almost 100 local judges, law enforcement organizations, victims' rights group, community clubs and elected officials at all levels of state government. He was the sole candidate to receive the endorsement of all three Municipal Attorneys—the District Attorney, the City Attorney and the Public Defender—and earned the highest possible rating by the San Francisco Bar Association (Exceptionally Well Qualified). Ryan was endorsed by every major newspaper in San Francisco. In 1999, he began his tenure as a member of the San Francisco Superior Court. During his almost seven years on the bench, Ryan handled matters in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions. Ryan was serving as the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division when President Bush appointed him to be the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Deputy District Attorney

Ryan began his legal career in California as a prosecutor with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. While in the District Attorney's office, he handled a variety of cases, including homicides and violent gang prosecutions. He was serving as a member of the Violent Gang Suppression Unit when Governor Pete Wilson appointed him in 1996 to serve as a Judge on the San Francisco Municipal Court.

Deputy Chief of Staff and Director, SF Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice

In January 2008, Ryan was appointed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to serve as his Deputy Chief of Staff and as the Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ). He joined the Administration during a period of troubling crime trends in San Francisco, and he was specifically tasked with driving policies designed to reverse the trends. During his tenure, the City witnessed a dramatic turn around in the area of homicides and part 1 crimes. Comparing 2008 to 2009, San Francisco's homicide rate declined by 52%. In the same period, many other part one and violent crime statistics were driven down significantly as well.

As Director of MOCJ, Ryan took a proactive, comprehensive approach to reducing the occurrence of crime in San Francisco. He was instrumental in the introduction and passage of three pieces of nightclub related legislation designed to make the entertainment commission more effective in dealing with related violence, the careful and much needed review of the City's long-standing Sanctuary City Ordinance, the development of the SFPD's Zone Strategy to reduce crime, the expansion of the ShotSpotter system with the help of a $1 million Congressionally directed investment, the reinvigoration of the more than ten year old JUSTIS program, and the fight to keep the Community Justice Center open.

In addition, Ryan was involved with at least four studies of the SF Police Department and the evaluation of the Public Safety Camera program. He also led bimonthly public safety clusters attended by senior representatives of the Police, Sheriff, Housing, Juvenile and Adult Probation departments, as well as the School District and the District Attorney's office. Ryan also served on behalf of the Mayor as the Co-Chair of the Reentry Council. Upon Ryan's resignation in December 2009, Mayor Newsom issued the following statement:

"His counsel and dedication were key to reducing violent crime in The City. During his tenure, Ryan oversaw and implemented numerous reforms that will make San Francisco a safer city for years to come."

In a November 18, 2009 article, the SF Examiner described Ryan as "a steadying hand in the Newsom administration."

Awards – during his career as a lawyer and judge, Ryan has served both the administration of justice and the greater community in many different ways:

  • In 1998, he was recognized by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Association as the Municipal Court Trial Judge of the Year.
  • Also, in 1998, Ryan was recognized by the Irish-Israeli-Italian Society of San Francisco for "Outstanding Service to the Community."
  • Ryan was appointed by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to serve on the Judicial Council's Executive Legislative Action Network.
  • He was appointed by the Governing Committee of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research to the Criminal Law Planning Committee of the California Continuing Judicial Studies Program.
  • He was appointed by the Presiding Judge for the Courts to the Adult Probation Department's Oversight Committee
  • He served as a member of the Executive Committee of the San Francisco Superior Court.
  • He served as a member of the Executive Committee of the University of San Francisco School of Law's American Inn of Courts.
  • He served as a Board member of the University of San Francisco's Law School Society Board of Governors.
  • He is a past member of the Board of Trustees for the Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco.
  • He served as an Honorary Board Member for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Team Northern California.
  • He served for many years as a faculty member for the University of San Francisco School of Law Intensive Trial Advocacy Program.
  • He was recognized in 2006 as one of the Top 100 Attorneys in California by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily.
  • In 2007, Irish America Magazine recognized Ryan as one of the Nation's Top 100 Irish Americans.
  • In 2008, the magazine again recognized his accomplishments, naming him one of the Top 100 Lawyers in their "Inaugural Legal 100" issue.
  • The Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine also listed Ryan as amongst the Top Attorneys in Northern California for both 2006 and 2007.

U.S. Attorney career[edit]

United States Attorney

On May 15, 2002, Ryan was nominated by the President to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California (NDCA). On July 26, 2002, upon the unanimous consent of the United States' Senate Judiciary Committee, the United States Senate confirmed Ryan's nomination to be one of the nation's 93 United States Attorneys (USA), and on July 31, 2002 the President appointed Ryan to be the 48th United States Attorney for the Northern District of California. During his tenure as the USA, Ryan focused the office's resources on a wide range of areas, including white-collar crime, gang and violent crime, securities fraud, cyber-crime, organized crime drug rings, healthcare fraud, child exploitation cases, alien harboring, and tax cases. Outside of the courtroom, Ryan considerably diversified the office by hiring and promoting a significant number of extraordinary women and minorities. Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay, who served as Ryan's top deputy from 2002–2003, stated "Kevin was instrumental in bringing diversity to the U.S. Attorney's Office (…) The women and minorities he hired fundamentally changed the dynamic of the office for the better. One of the things I noticed in working with Kevin was that he was not afraid to make people accountable for their actions. Most importantly, Kevin brought courage to, and a fresh look at, complex problems that merited the government's attention. Kevin was not afraid to pursue complex cases and issues, like terrorism, BALCO, stock options backdating, and corporate fraud."

Ryan was selected with 6 other United States Attorneys to serve on President Bush's Corporate Fraud Task Force. Additionally, he has been appointed by the Attorney General to serve on three of the Attorney General's Subcommittees: Terrorism and National Security; Controlled Substances and Environmental. In April 2004, Ryan was selected, along with only one other USA, to join the Department of Justice's newly created Justice Department's Intellectual Property Task Force, and in November 2004 Ryan was asked to join, with 6 other United States Attorneys, a newly created Health Care Fraud Working Group. Ryan also served as a Board member and as the Vice Chair and Chair for the Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) working group, as a member of the Executive Board of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, and as an Honorary Officer of the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of California Chapter.

Gangs and violent crime

Ryan's tenure was noted for taking an aggressive stance in criminal street gang cases, and using powerful federal RICO statutes to take violent offenders off the street. The office was also productive in aggressively prosecuting felons possessing firearms as part of the President's Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. Outside of the courtroom, Ryan was instrumental in securing over $3 million in federal funding to weed out the worst offenders, and to provide organizations with funding to create and sustain community development programs and initiatives. Ryan supported the Northern District Gang Prevention Summit, which worked to build relationships to help prevent gang violence by bringing together nationally renowned experts, community leaders, policy makers, and law enforcement officials to discuss ongoing efforts to prevent gang violence. Police Chief Heather Fong confirmed, "We have had great successes, at all levels, because of our partnership with the Office of the U.S. Attorney. In San Francisco, we have made significant accomplishments in suppressing gun and gang violence, as well as human trafficking, due to our collaboration with the U.S. Attorney. All of us will miss U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan and his support and energy for our law enforcement endeavors." Some noteworthy cases in this area include:

  • In October 2005, twelve members of the Down Below Gang — a violent street gang in San Francisco — were indicted on charges of seven murders and seven attempted murders. Eight pleaded guilty in December 2006. Four of those convicted received sentences of 15 years or more in federal prison.
  • In March 2006, 15 associates of the Project Trojan criminal street gang in North Richmond individuals were indicted on conspiracy drug dealing charges.
  • In March 2006, the final two defendants in a four-year prosecution — which netted 35 convictions of members and associates of the Big Block gang in San Francisco — were sentenced to 20 and 23 years in prison respectively.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera stated: "In my five years as City Attorney, Kevin Ryan helped forge an unprecedented level of cooperation between the U.S. Attorney's Office and mine on issues like gang violence and others (…) Kevin has demonstrated himself to be an extremely capable, forward-thinking leader, and I'm confident he will continue to be an important force in the legal community for the cause of justice." Deputy Chief of Police Morris Tabak, similarly concurred, noting: "Over the years, the San Francisco Police Bureau of Investigations has enjoyed an extremely close working relationship with U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan (…) His office has been instrumental in charging many of San Francisco's gang related murders and other gang associated crimes. An example is the many federal indictments issued resulting in the arrests of members of the Big Block, West Mob, Page Street and most recently the Down Below gangs, essentially dismantling them as a result. We also thank the U.S. Attorney for prosecuting a major out-of-state gun smuggling operation that was supplying firearms to San Francisco gang members. San Francisco is truly a much safer city today thanks to Kevin Ryan."

White collar crime, securities fraud, computer hacking and intellectual property, environmental crimes

As a member of the President's Corporate Fraud Task Force and the Department of Justice's Intellectual Property Task Force, Ryan has oversaw a number of significant 'firsts' in the prosecution of white-collar crime and intellectual property offenses. Notably, Ryan established the Northern California U.S. Attorney's Office as a national leader in prosecuting stock options backdating cases after he formed the Northern California Stock Options Backdating Task Force. The office also had numerous successes in computer hacking and intellectual property, environmental crimes, as well as over $129.4 million in payments from two large healthcare fraud cases. Some of the noteworthy cases in these areas include:

  • The country's first indictment for stock options backdating offenses against two executives of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. Both have since been convicted by jury.
  • Three Enron executives were convicted for their role in manipulating the energy markets during the California Energy Crisis.
  • The Williams Power Company paid $50 million in a deferred prosecution agreement for knowingly submitting false natural gas price data to benefit their position in the market. Additionally, six natural gas traders have pleaded guilty for manipulating natural gas prices.
  • The first conviction for "pretexting" involving Hewlett-Packard officials and journalists.
  • Two founders and four brokers of the Dorean Group have been indicted for their role in a fraudulent "mortgage elimination scheme." Investigators are continuing to investigate more than 550 properties throughout 35 states with a potential value of greater than $88 million in loans that may have been affected by this alleged scheme.
  • Former Ukrainian Prime Minister, Pavel Lazarenko, was sentenced in August 2006 to nine years in prison and ordered to pay a $10 million fine for extorting over $40 million from Ukrainian citizens and laundering over $20 million through American banks.

Healthcare fraud

Endovascular Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Guidant Corporation, pleaded guilty to 10 felonies and agreed to pay $92.4 million to resolve criminal and civil charges that it covered up thousands of incidents in which a medical device used to treat aneurysms in the aorta malfunctioned. Among the thousands of incidents covered up by the company, were 12 deaths and dozens of invasive surgeries. InterMune, Inc., a Brisbane, California biopharmaceutical company, agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and to pay nearly $37 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liability in connection with its illegal promotion and marketing of its drug Actimmune (Interferon gamma-1b) in October 2006.

Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property — The CHIP Unit

The CHIP Unit, which is based in the San Jose branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office, was established in 2000 and was the first federal specialized prosecution unit in a U.S. Attorney's Office. This model has been followed in other U.S. Attorney's Offices and there are now about twenty-five CHIP Units in offices around the country. Some of the noteworthy cases prosecuted by this unit, under Ryan, include:

  • The country's first conviction for violations of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. Additionally, the CHIP Unit brought the second and third indictments in the country under the ten years of this statute. These cases involve trade secrets stolen with the intent to benefit foreign governments, including China, Malaysia, and Thailand.
  • Operation Remaster netted approximately 494,000 CDs and 5,500 stampers in what the Recording Industry Association of America said was the largest seizure of counterfeit CDs in the country at that time. All three defendants in that case pleaded guilty.
  • Operation Copycat has yielded 35 convictions. Defendants pleaded guilty to illegally distributing pirated movies, games and software over the Internet. Two film critics who sold pre-release movies for illegal distribution have been convicted, and the operation has yielded the first convictions in the country for camcording in a movie theater and uploading "pre-release" movies on the Internet.


One of the world's largest shipping companies, A.P. Moller-Maersk, A/S of Denmark pleaded guilty in September 2005 to providing false documents to the U.S. Coast Guard during a routine inspection of one of its cargo ships to ensure compliance with the international MARPOL treaty, which limits oil pollution from ships. Ryan dedicated $1.5 million to rehabilitating and restoring marine wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay to further protect the California leopard shark. Over $900,000 came from payments by a San Leandro church, and restitution by the church's pastor and five other criminal defendants who were involved with an operation that poached thousands of California leopard sharks from the San Francisco Bay for more than ten years.


Ryan oversaw the BALCO steroids prosecution, which resulted in five felony convictions under his tenure, exposed the harmful side-effects of doping, and shined a light on the surprisingly widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Under his tenure, more than 15 athletes have been disciplined by regulators in their various sports. Congress has held extensive hearings on steroids in sports, including taking testimony from Major League Baseball players, and has classified Norbolethone and THG as Schedule III drugs. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has toughened federal sentencing guidelines for steroids-related offenses. Quoted in USA Today, Ryan noted: "There's an honor system in sports, and people in sports have to abide by this honor system," Ryan says. "The parameters are in place now. The public is now expecting every sport to regulate itself (…) We've done our job. We should be proud."

Child exploitation

Some of the noteworthy cases that the office prosecuted to protect the most vulnerable members of our society included:

  • In the first prosecution of its kind, Peace Corps volunteer Timothy Obert pleaded guilty in February 2006 to sexually assaulting a minor while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica.
  • In July 2005, Edward Aaron Harvey, a creator of child pornography websites, was indicted for advertisement of child pornography, transportation and attempted transportation of child pornography, and money laundering. Five subscribers from the Northern District of California were also charged.

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force — The OCDETF Section

Ron Brooks, Director of the Northern California High Intensity Drug Task Force, stated: "Kevin always demonstrated great integrity and moral courage and could be counted upon to follow his convictions on controversial issues, including his defense of the Patriot Act and the prosecution of large scale marijuana traffickers who were hiding behind medical marijuana as a defense to their multi-million dollar drug trafficking operations (…) Because of his vision, Kevin and his office were engaged in the early stages of the fight against to stop the violent street gangs that are threatening our neighborhoods. He was a leader in supporting the vigorous enforcement and prosecution of gang related crimes but he also recognized the importance of preventing gang crimes before they happen. Kevin was an innovator in Northern California by using his Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program to develop and fund prevention and outreach programs. He will be remembered by his colleagues as a tough but fair prosecutor, a champion of public safety, a person who placed service to his community before himself; and in my opinion, the finest United States Attorney I have ever known." Operation Ice Axe has resulted in the indictment of 19 individuals for conspiracy to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii in May 2006. Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena, of the DEA, similarly lauded Ryan: "It has been a privilege to work side-by-side with U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan in helping to make Northern California and the San Francisco Bay community a safer place for all citizens," said "When you are fighting international drug traffickers everyday, I can't tell you how important it is to have a U.S. Attorney who is as equally dedicated to the challenge at hand." Alien Harboring, Public Corruption, and other Notable Cases

Additionally, Ryan oversaw a number of cases involving public corruption, alien harboring, and public safety.

Some of the noteworthy cases in this area include:

  • Five California DMV employees and five "brokers" were charged and convicted in 2005 and 2006 for their role in selling hundreds of fraudulent California Driver's Licenses for up to $4,500.
  • Operation Gilded Cage has charged over 30 Bay Area brothel owners and others involved in the operation of massage parlors that allegedly harbored aliens for commercial advantage. Numerous defendants have pleaded guilty to date.
  • Deputy District Attorney Robert Roland was convicted of accepting drugs from state court defendants in February 2006. He was sentenced to six months in prison.
  • Four defendants were convicted and sentenced for stealing over 700 pounds of explosives from law enforcement bunkers on July 4, 2004.
  • Marcus O. Armstrong, formerly the highest-ranking technology officer in San Francisco's Department of Building Inspection, pleaded guilty to public corruption charges in July 2003, admitting that he defrauded San Francisco taxpayers out of more than half a million dollars through a phony invoicing and kickback scheme.

The Gang of Seven

At the end of 2007, Ryan found himself among seven U.S. Attorneys whom the Bush Administration simultaneously dismissed .[2][3] The unprecedented terminations sparked a congressional inquiry, allegations of improper political considerations in the decision-making process, and ultimately to the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales and several of his senior staff.[4]

Media and guest speaker[edit]

Ryan is a frequent speaker and lecturer. He has been interviewed and/or featured on national and international TV and radio, including ABC, CBS, MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, Korean TV, and French Public TV, and on many Bay Area local TV and radio stations, such as Channel 2, 4, 5, and 7, KGO Radio, Comcast, and Public Radio (KQED). In 2006 he was profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle Business section, and in 2007 he was profiled in USA Today for his work on the BALCO case. He has also lectured a variety of subjects and appeared on panels or programs sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA), the Practicing Law Institute (PLI), IQPC, the Association of General Counsel (AOGC), and for many other local groups and entities.


  1. ^ Wolf, Kathy Morris (1996). California Courts and Judges. James Publishing. p. 1541. 
  2. ^ "Players in the US Attorneys Firing Controversy". Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "US Att'y Kevin Ryan pushed out – but why?". Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy". Retrieved 12 July 2012. 

External references[edit]