Washington paralegal specialist honored by Department of Justice for her work on the Tom Wales case

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Attorney General award ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy U.S. Dept of Justice

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recognized 244 employees of the Department of Justice for their distinguished public service at the 66th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony on October 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Thirty-six other individuals outside of the department were also honored for their work.

This annual ceremony recognizes employees and other individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements, leadership, and service to the Department of Justice and the American people. This year’s award includes an award for exceptional heroism to U.S. Marshal Senior Inspector Basilio S. Perez, Jr., for his courageous actions to protect and aid victims of the October 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Service in the Department of Justice is more than a normal job; it is a calling to the highest standards of professionalism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “That is true for all of the 115,000 Department of Justice employees. But it is especially true for these award winners. And so I want to thank them and their families for their exemplary service to this Department and to the American people. They have made this Department proud.”

Among those awarded was Gretchen Courtney, who works in the Seattle office.

“For more than 17 years Gretchen Courtney has worked tirelessly for justice for Tom Wales, the Wales family and all of us who knew and loved this talented and dedicated Assistant United States Attorney,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. 
“She has managed what is now the largest case file at the FBI, and provided support to the joint Federal and State team working to bring a killer to justice.”

In making the award to Paralegal Specialist Gretchen Courtney, the Attorney General noted that she had spent a significant portion of her professional life supporting the investigation of the October 11, 2001 shooting death of Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Crane Wales.

Mr. Wales was shot and killed at his home by an unknown assailant who stood outside a backyard window. If, as investigators believe, Wales was killed in connection with his work, he would be the first Assistant United States Attorney killed in the line of duty.

The award to Paralegal Specialist Gretchen Courtney notes her “unwavering commitment” to the investigation, and that her “invaluable contributions have included managing the collection, analysis, and maintenance of the largest case file in the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Her service is a tribute to the U.S. Department of Justice’s fierce determination to ensure those responsible for the murder are held accountable for the crime.”

This year’s program honors individuals across the department and our federal, state, local, and tribal partners for their selfless efforts, protecting our national security and our civil rights, addressing rising violent crime in our communities, going after gangs and those trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings. 

The awards also honor the work of civil and environmental litigation, which enforces the rule of law and upholds our Constitution. They also recognize employees whose ideas and efforts save taxpayer dollars and help our government operate more effectively and efficiently, among other contributions to public safety and good governance.


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