The Criminal Program conducts or assists in criminal prosecutions; acts as advisor for District Attorneys, the Legislature and law enforcement entities; provides legal services in the areas of extradition, appeals and federal habeas corpus proceedings, post-conviction relief, constitutional challenges, writs, expungements and amicus curiae; prepares attorney general opinions concerning criminal law; operates White Collar Crimes Section, Violent Crime and Drug Unit, Sexual Predator Apprehension Team, and Insurance Fraud Unit; investigates and prosecutes individuals and entities defrauding the Medicaid Program or abusing residents in health care facilities and initiates recovery of identified overpayments; and provides investigation services for the department.
Director: Leon Cannizzaro
Leon Cannizzaro has served the citizens of Louisiana in the criminal justice system for his entire career. He began as an Assistant District Attorney in Orleans Parish then as a staff attorney for the Orleans Indigent Defenders Program. In 1986, Cannizzaro was elected Judge in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. During his 17-year tenure on that bench, Cannizzaro presided over more jury trials than any judge in the history of Louisiana. He then served five years as a judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. In 2008, Cannizzaro was elected District Attorney of Orleans Parish where he served the completion of an unexpired term and then two full terms. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Orleans and his law degree from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.
The Criminal Division is currently divided into sections:
The General Prosecution Sections prosecutes violations of all types of criminal laws of the state by conducting or assisting in criminal prosecutions pursuant to the recusal or request of District Attorneys. Prosecutions handled by these Sections include, but are not limited to, cases involving white collar crime, public corruption, narcotics violations, violent crimes and violations of the state’s environmental laws. This Section also serves as (1) advisor to the district attorneys, law enforcement and the Legislature, (2) a training agency for law enforcement, and (3) as liaison between various levels of law enforcement within the state.
Criminal Appeals Section
The Appeals and Special Services Section provides legal services to the state in the areas of (1) extraditions, (2) federal habeas corpus and post-conviction relief, (3) as amicus curiae in matters pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, (4) constitutional challenges, and (5) by preparation of Attorney General Opinions concerning matters of criminal law.
The Sexual Predator Unit oversees the statewide implementation and enforcement of Louisiana's sex offender and child predator registration and notification laws with regard to over 13,000 registered sex offenders and child predators. This is done by working with federal, state, and local investigative resources, and the public, to make sure offenders who are required to register do so, or are apprehended for their failure to do so. In addition, the Unit is responsible for overseeing continuing substantial compliance with the Federal Adam Walsh Act by providing information to the legislature when changes are proposed to our registration and notification laws and by reporting to the U.S. DOJ any changes that are enacted. The Unit provides trainings and consultations to law enforcement, prosecutors, and other state and federal agencies related to sex offender and child predator registration and notification requirements under Louisiana law. Lastly, this Unit handles all litigation related to the application of sex offender registration and notification laws and sets official registration end dates for offenders who have less than lifetime registration periods. The authority and duties of the unit are set forth in LSA –R.S. 15:552, 15:544(E), 15:544.1, and 15:544.2.
The Insurance Fraud Section provides legal services to the state in the area of insurance fraud by providing legal assistance to the Department of Insurance and Louisiana State Police in connection with crimes of this nature and by prosecuting all types of insurance fraud cases.
In Louisiana, the responsibility to investigate and prosecute all types of fraud perpetrated by providers of medical services in the Medicaid program has been assigned to the Medicaid Fraud Control Section of the Department of Justice.
The Unit receives cases for investigation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and from many other sources.
Regulations issued by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services also require the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to review complaints alleging abuse or neglect of Medicaid patients in health care facilities and to investigate those cases which indicate a substantial potential for criminal prosecution. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates and prosecutes individuals and entities defrauding the Medicaid Program or abusing residents in health care facilities. It also initiates recovery of identified overpayments.