David Hickton

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

How prepared is the city of Pittsburgh for a ransomware attack?

The former top federal prosecutor in western Pennsylvania says cities like Pittsburgh can take simple steps to protect themselves from ransomware attacks like the ones crippling computer systems in Atlanta and Baltimore.

David Hickton served as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania under President Barack Obama from 2010 to 2016. He is the founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security.

courtesy: David Hickton

During David Hickton’s tenure as U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania, from 2010-16, his office took the lead in pursuing cyber crimes and terrorism.

Now, Hickton is starting a new career path as founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security.

“With the appointment of David Hickton, the University of Pittsburgh is poised to offer significant contributions to the national discussion on cyber-related issues affecting personal, national, and global security and privacy,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

Keith Srakocic / AP

U.S. Attorney David Hickton gave no reason for his surprise resignation serving the Western District of Pennsylvania on Monday.

His office said his last day will be Nov. 28.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

A few weeks ago in Ambridge, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wrapped up his speech with a request for Pennsylvanians to not just vote, but to monitor others.

“[It’s] so important that you watch other communities,” Trump said. “Because we don’t want this election stolen from us.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Law enforcement, public health officials and policy experts are hoping a 64-page report released Wednesday will serve as a model for the rest of the world when it comes to combating the growing opioid crisis.

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos / flickr

University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health Science is entering the battle against the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Donald Burke, dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, said opioids affect every major demographic group in the country. He is working to compile data on the epidemic from several different sources.

Hickton: European Charged In Phishing Scam To Appear In U.S. Court

Feb 26, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

An Eastern European man was set to face a federal judge in Pittsburgh on Friday on charges he ran an international email phishing scheme that enabled him and others to steal banking information from U.S. companies.

Andrey Ghinkul, 30, is from Moldova. He was arrested in August while on vacation in Cyprus and was extradited to Pennsylvania last week.

Prosecutors plan to ask that he remain jailed until trial, because they say he a risk to flee prosecution.

Lauri Rantala / Flickr

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has indicted a Washington County man on four counts of drug offenses related to trafficking heroin laced with the painkiller fentanyl, U.S. Attorney David Hickton announced Tuesday.

Ronald Milliard, 24, of Washington was allegedly involved in the distribution of heroin that was tied to at least two overdoses in Washington County in August, according to Hickton. The county has been wracked by 222 overdoses and 33 overdose deaths since that month. Twenty-seven overdoses fell within a two-day span.

frankieleon / Flickr

  In the past week, three people have died in Allegheny County from opioid overdoses.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton said Wednesday there were 15 non-fatal overdoses in Cambria County since Monday and at least a dozen non-fatal overdoses in Washington County since the weekend.

Hickton, the western Pennsylvania federal prosecutor, said law enforcement agencies are now treating every overdose as a criminal investigation.

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The country’s second-largest for-profit education provider will have to pay the U.S. government nearly $100 million in a landmark settlement.

Authorities said in a news conference Monday that Education Management Corporation, or EDMC, which is based in Pittsburgh, agreed to the settlement after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money while using predatory recruiting practices.

Local Man Convicted Of Sex Trafficking

Jul 22, 2015

East McKeesport's former public works director was convicted in a human trafficking sting on Tuesday.

Joseph Clemenic Jr., 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child after an FBI probe revealed he paid an underage girl to come to his home to have sex in April, according to court documents. He is scheduled to be sentenced in November and could spend up to nine years in prison.

15 Charged in Test-Taking Fraud Scheme

May 28, 2015

Fifteen people were charged with conspiracy, counterfeiting foreign passports, mail fraud and wire fraud in Pittsburgh on Thursday. 

All charged are Chinese nationals.

There were people who, for money, were taking tests for other people. Some of the test-takers resided in Pittsburgh. Because of their status as Chinese citizens, they had to pass an English language proficiency exam and have a passport. The passports were fake, said David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Pittsburgh is one of six cities designated as a pilot site for a national initiative to strengthen and improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community.

It's called the National Initiative for Building Community, and it’s a partnership between the Department of Justice and legal experts from institutions such as the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Yale Law School.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton announced the indictment of 14 individuals Thursday on charges related to a cross-country drug distribution pipeline.

“As of 9:15 (a.m.), 12 of the 14 defendants were in federal custody,” Hickton said. “They will appear today in federal court to be informed of the charges.”

Two of the 14 suspects, William Blair and James McCray, both from the Pittsburgh area, remain at large.

40 Charged In Drug Trafficking Investigation

Oct 24, 2014

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh indicted 40 men and women on Tuesday for violating narcotics and firearms laws, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice Western District.

The suspects are mostly from Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs, but a handful live in West Virginia, Ohio and Southern California. They range in age from 21 to 63.

Grand Jury Dissolved Without Indicting Ravenstahl

Aug 19, 2014

The federal grand jury, which heard evidence against then Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, has been dismissed without handing up any indictments against the mayor or anyone in his administration.

David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, would not comment on the development. Ravenstahl’s attorney Charles Porter Jr. could not be reached for comment. 

Courtesy U.S. Department of Justice

Law enforcement officials in Pittsburgh had a major hand in bringing down an international ring of cyber criminals, according U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.

The indictment, unsealed Monday, names Russian citizen Evgeny Bogachev as one of five defendants, charged with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. The indictment alleges that Bogachev was the mastermind behind two malware programs that infected the computers of as many as one million people worldwide, 25 percent of whom were in the United States.

It's a problem that is lurking just below the surface in Pennsylvania, and it is getting worse every year.  

A group assembled by United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton will look for solutions to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in the Pittsburgh area.

The U.S. Attorney’s Working Group on Addiction: Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery will work to identify the problems behind the alarming number of opiate overdoses in Western Pennsylvania and how to solve them.

Federal investigators in Western Pennsylvania have uncovered a national identity theft scheme that has been in operation for nearly a decade. Thieves used stolen IDs to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards and file fake tax returns that caused the IRS to pay millions in fraudulent funds.

Five suspects from New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee are being charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say the West Penn Allegheny Health System has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to settle claims that it violated the law by offering doctors below-market rents so the physicians would refer patients to the network's hospitals.

A spokesman for West Penn says the settlement grew out of a self-audit and voluntary report made to federal officials, which was confirmed by U.S. Attorney David Hickton, who announced the settlement. The allegedly illegal activity began in the mid-2000s, with most of it occurring between 2008 and 2012.

Feds Charge Founder of PA Cyber Charter School

Aug 23, 2013

A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has indicted the founder and former CEO of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

Nicholas Trombetta, 58, is accused of diverting more than $8 million in taxpayer money from Pennsylvania school districts through PA Cyber and several other organizations and into his own hands.

"There's this huge disconnect where both sides need each other, but we've got to find a way to get there," said US Attorney for Western PA David Hickton about the need to improve relations between residents and law enforcement.

U.S. Attorney Announces Indictments of 'Uptown Crew'

Mar 14, 2013
Tim Camerato / 90.5 WESA

United States Attorney David Hickton announced the indictments of 34 people alleged to be part of Homestead’s “Uptown Crew” for violent offenses and the trafficking of heroin.

This morning, police arrested 29 of those charged in the criminal operation.

The investigation into the group was led by the FBI’s Safe Streets Taskforce beginning last year and implemented surveillance, control purchases, confidential tips and wiretapping to collect information on the gang.