Melinda Haag

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Melinda Haag
Melinda Haag US Attorney.jpg
United States Attorney for the Northern District of California
Assumed office
Preceded by Joseph Russoniello[1]
Constituency Northern District of California
Personal details
Born 1961
San Diego, California
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of California, San Diego (1983)
UC Berkeley School of Law (1987)

Melinda L. Haag[2] (born 1961), commonly known as Melinda Haag, is U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

In 1983, Ms. Haag graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. In 1987, Ms. Haag received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.[3]


Melinda Haag is serving as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California after being nominated for the position by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate in August 2010.

As U.S. Attorney, Ms. Haag oversees the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases brought and defended on behalf of the United States in the Northern District of California, which encompasses San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, Del Norte, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties. She supervises an office of more than 115 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who handle a high volume of cases that include white collar crime, gang violence and organized crime, narcotics and firearms trafficking, public integrity and civil rights violations, human trafficking and child exploitation, computer intrusions and intellectual property theft, environmental violations, and export enforcement and national security matters. Ms. Haag serves as Co-Chair of the White Collar Crime Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.

Ms. Haag is an experienced trial lawyer with 26 years of prosecutorial and private sector experience. She has personally handled securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, antitrust, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, environmental, civil rights, defense contractor fraud, health care fraud, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and child exploitation cases. Ms. Haag has served as lead or co-lead counsel in more than 19 jury and bench trials, including a number of complex white collar and civil rights cases.

Ms. Haag is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been included on many lists of top lawyers. Ms. Haag was named five years in a row by Chambers USA as one of America’s Leading Lawyers in White Collar Crime and Government Investigations, identified by Lawdragon as one of 500 Leading Lawyers in America, selected twice by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California, and named five years in a row as one of the Top Women Litigators in California. Ms. Haag received the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Public Service Award in 2003.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Haag spent seven years as a partner with the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, where she specialized in litigation and trial work. Before that time, Ms. Haag had nine years of experience as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California and the Northern District of California. Ms. Haag served as Chief of the White Collar Crimes Section in the Northern District, where she supervised the prosecution of white collar, environmental, child exploitation, and civil rights offenses. She was also a litigation associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP and a partner at Landels, Ripley & Diamond, LLP. [4]

Appointment as U.S. Attorney[edit]

Haag was appointed to the U.S. Attorney's office by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed without debate by the Senate in August 2010.[1]

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Closures[edit]

Haag has been aggressively closing large state approved medical marijuana dispenseries including efforts to seize the property of landlords of those dispensaries. [1][2]

Melinda Haag filed federal court complaints against medical pot dispensaries alleging they violate U.S. law prohibiting marijuana distribution. The complaints are part of a campaign Haag has waged against medical marijuana operations in California, despite assurances from President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that cannabis operations that comply with state law would not be targeted by the Department of Justice.

"The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana law, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need," Haag said. The complaints rely on alleged violation of federal drug law in asserting the U.S. government's right to seize the properties where the medical marijuana is dispensed.

Ana Chretian owns one of the properties and leases space to Harborside, a large dispensary. Her attorney, Geoff Spellberg, said the federal forfeiture action would shut down her own business, ABC security, which employs about 250 people and operates out of the same building. [3]

The Work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office[edit]

During Ms. Haag’s tenure as U.S. Attorney, the Northern District office has successfully handled numerous important cases, including an $81 million criminal settlement with Walmart regarding its handling of hazardous wastes; a $40 million settlement with UPS regarding shipments on behalf of illegal internet pharmacies; the trial of former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds; the trial of a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club for the murder of a rival Hell’s Angels Club member; a series of trials against members of the notorious MS-13 gang on murder and RICO charges; numerous investor fraud cases reflecting hundreds of millions of dollars in losses from innocent investors; a $85 million settlement with a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary in a health care fraud case involving off-label promotion of a heart failure drug; and a $31.9 million settlement with Maersk Lines in a government fraud case, among others.

The NDCA U.S. Attorney’s Office has handled significant cases involving all variety of economic crimes; civil rights violations; human trafficking crimes; environmental violations; child exploitation crimes; computer intrusions; thefts of intellectual property; export violations; narcotics trafficking; money laundering; gang and gun violence; and RICO prosecutions.

A representative sampling of recent criminal cases includes:[5]

  • Disgraced Former Police Detective Sentenced to 14 years in Federal Prison after Pleading Guilty to Wide-Ranging Civil Rights Conspiracy
  • Child Rescued and Salinas Man Charged With Child Sexual Abuse after Nationwide Manhunt
  • East Bay Home Building Company Sales Manager Pleads Guilty in Bribery Case
  • Defendants Sentenced To More Than 8 Years In Prison For Assault And Attempted Robbery Of Federal Agent At Gun Point
  • Man Claiming To Be Son Of The President Of The Congo Indicted For Defrauding Victims Out Of $1.6 Million
  • Scotts Valley Investment Company Charged in $60 Million Fraud Scheme
  • Executive Recruiter Convicted of Computer Intrusion and Trade Secret Charges
  • Federal Murder Charges In San Jose Gang Shooting
  • Man Charged with Unlawfully Using Others’ Identities to Steal More Than $250,000 in IRS Refunds
  • Former Investment Banker Pleads Guilty To Insider Trading Scheme
  • Nine Sentenced For Illegally Distributing Controlled Substances Over The Internet
  • Former CalPERS CEO Indicted For Conspiracy And Fraud
  • Berkeley Man Sentenced To Prison For Possessing A Destructive Device
  • FBI Reunites Children with Mother After a Kidnapping and Eighteen Months in Captivity
  • Co-Founders Of South San Francisco Company Plead Guilty To Taking Money From Their Employees’ Benefit Plan
  • Federal Agents Arrest Man After He Attempts To Bomb Bank In Oakland
  • Former President And Executive Director Of Vanguard Public Foundation Sentenced To 40 Months In Prison For Fraud And Money Laundering
  • Four Defendants Indicted For Committing A Home Invasion Robbery Dressed As Police Officers
  • Three Charged with the Murder of a 23-Month Old Child in Oakland Gang Shooting
  • 19 Indicted from South San Francisco Street Gang on Murder and RICO Charges
  • Indictment Returned Alleging Extortion from Yurok Tribe in Humboldt County
  • Operation Gideon results in Charges against More than 90 Defendants on State and Federal Gun-Related Charges

Since the Northern District encompasses the Silicon Valley, the Office also provides significant assistance to foreign law enforcement agencies with Treaty-based requests for evidence and information.

The Appellate Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office writes the criminal briefs filed in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, provides guidance to trial AUSAs, reviews significant district court pleadings, coordinates the Criminal Division training programs, and provide informal training for AUSAs through daily consultation, intensive review and editing of briefs, and moot court preparation for oral arguments. During USA Haag’s tenure, the Appellate Division has handled the following significant cases:

  • United States v. Budziak, 697 F.3d 1105 (9th Cir. 2012) (the Court holds that placing child porn in a file-sharing folder accessible to others can amount to distribution of child porn if it is actually downloaded, even where it was downloaded FBI agents using their special software)
  • United States v. Cyrus, 2013 WL 2322758 (9th Cir. 2013) (the court affirms all conviction and the life sentence stemming from a multi-month trial on RICO charges)
  • United States v. Dann, 652 F.3d 1160 (9th Cir. 2011) (the Court affirms the convictions in human-trafficking case)
  • United States v. Dejarnette, 403 Fed. Appx. 188 (9th Cir. 2010) (on a government appeal, the Court reverses the district court’s order dismissing a failure to register as a sex offender count)
  • United States v. Gonzalez, 683 F.3d 1221 (9th Cir. 2012) (the Court affirms the conviction in a drug case holding, as a matter fo first impression, that venue may be established solely by an undercover officer’s unsolicited telephone calls to the defendant who was out of the district).
  • United States v. Hardeman, 704 F.3d 1266 (9th Cir. 2013) (on a government appeal, the Court reverses the district court’s pretrial order dismissing a sentencing enhancement as violating the Ex Post Facto Clause).
  • United States v. Harkonen, 2013 WL 782354 (9th Cir. 2013) (the Court affirms the wire fraud conviction of a drug manufacturer for his issuance of a false press release, rejecting his claim that the prosecution violated the First Amendment)
  • United States v. Jinian, 712 F.3d 1255 (9th Cir. 2013) (the Court affirmed several wire fraud convictions rejecting challenges to the wire fraud statute as applied to these facts)
  • United States v. Johnson, 610 F.3d 1138 (9th Cir. 2010) (the Court affirms the convictions arising from a complex mortgage fraud case involving two defendants who opted to represent themselves at trial)
  • United States v. Kent, 649 F.3d 906 (9th Cir. 2010) (the Court affirmed the district court’s order rejecting the defendant’s of claiming prosecutorial vindictiveness based on the government’s filing a sentencing enhancement after the defendant rejected the plea offer)
  • United States v. King, 711 F.3d 986 (9th Cir. 2013) (the Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction and concluded that a suspcionless search of probationer’s home conducted pursuant to a search condition did not violate the Fourth Amendment)
  • United States v. McCall, 441 Fed. Appx. 515 (9th Cir. 2011) (the Court affirmed the securities fraud conviction of the CEO of McKesson Corporation).
  • United States v. Morris, 633 F.3d 885 (9th Cir. 2011) (on a government appeal, the Court reversed the district court’s order dismissing an information based on prosecutorial “abuse”)
  • United States v. Pleasant, 704 F.3d 808 (9th Circ. 2013) (on a government appeal, the Court reversed the district court’s order reducing defendant’s sentence based on the recent amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines reducing the crack cocaine guideline finding that the district court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion because defendant does not meet the statutory criteria for qualification for reduction).
  • United States v. Reyes, 660 F.3d 464 (9th Cir. 2011) (the Court affirmed the convictions of Brocade Communications CEO Gregory Reyes for illegal backdating of stock options, and rejected all prosecutorial misconduct claims)
  • United States v. Solorio, 669 F.3d 943 (9th Cir. 2012) (the Court affirmed the defendant’s drug conviction holding that the admission of the surveillance officers’ statements through other officers present on the scene did not violate the Confrontation Clause because the statements were non-testimonial)
  • United States v. Yeung, 672 F.3d 594 (9th Cir. 2012) (the Court affirmed the mortgage fraud convictions)

The Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office defends the United States and its agencies in all actions properly brought in the Northern District. These actions include tort, employment discrimination, constitutional torts and civil rights, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Social Security Act, environmental law, certain government contracts, and immigration. The Civil Division litigates cases in both the district court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Civil Division also represents the United States in cases alleging health care fraud and other fraud against the government. Recent affirmative civil enforcement cases include a $31.9 million settlement with Maersk Line Limited for alleged false claims involving shipments to support U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq; a $10 million settlement with Triwest Healthcare Alliance Corporation for alleged false claims to a federal health care program; a $5.1 million settlement with California Rural Indian Health Board for alleged false claims to a federal grant program for Native Americans; a $4.3 million settlement with Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for alleged false claims to Medicare; a $16 million settlement with Wells Fargo for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and a settlement with Mills College in which the college agreed to conduct extensive alterations and construction to come into compliance with the ADA.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is one of only two U.S. Attorney's Offices in the country that has a separate division dedicated to litigating both criminal and civil tax cases. The Tax Division in the Northern District of California was established more than 40 years ago to ensure compliance with the United States’ tax laws and to protect the public fisc with integrity, fairness, and expertise.

The Tax Division prosecutes criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and works on complex tax issues in civil defensive and affirmative cases. These cases, which cover the spectrum from criminal tax fraud and evasion cases to civil cases including such matters as claimed refunds, fraudulent conveyances, lien determinations, and preferential transfers, are litigated in all the federal district, bankruptcy, and state trial and appellate courts within the Northern District of California as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Through its efforts, the Tax Division has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected taxes, successfully prosecuted myriad criminal tax law violators, and prevailed in countless affirmative and defensive cases in the various courts in which it practices.

The Northern District of California U.S. Attorney’s Office collected $346 million in 2011 and $349 million in 2012 in criminal fines and civil penalties for the U.S. Treasury, more than 14 times the office’s operating budget in each year. The NDCA was 5th and 9th in the country respectively in terms of collections made by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in those years. [5]


  1. ^ a b "Melinda Haag Confirmed As U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California". August 5, 2010. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Meet Melinda L. Haag". April 12, 2010. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney". US Attorney for the Northern District of California. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Northern District of California". 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  5. ^ a b "USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Northern District of California". Retrieved 2013-11-02. 

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