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Tag: U.S. Attorney

ATF Director B. Todd Jones Calling it Quits; Tom Brandon Will Step Up

US Attorney B. Todd Jones

Todd Jones

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

B. Todd Jones, the head of ATF, who first stepped in as acting director in 2011, and later became the first ATF directory in history to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is stepping down, effective March 31.

The announcement from ATF came in a press release, which said he’s departing to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Jone’s number two person, Thomas Brandon, will step in as acting director.

“ATF employees are hard-working, dedicated individuals who serve the public to make our nation safer every day,” said Jones in a statement. “I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to combatting violent crime, ridding the streets of criminals, and leveraging all available resources to keep our communities safe.”

“I will truly miss leading and working side-by-side with these men and women in their pursuit of ATF’s unique law enforcement and regulatory mission,” Jones added.

Jones initially held two jobs in 2011: He was named acting director of ATF while still serving as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota. President Obama nominated him for the permanent post on Jan. 24, 2013, and he ended his job as U.S. Attorney after being confirmed as ATF director.

Tom Brandon/atf photo

ATF Deputy Director Thomas E. Brandon will serve as Acting Director. Brandon was appointed Deputy Director of ATF in October 2011.

 

 

Federal Judge Terrence Berg Shot and Wounded in Detroit

Terrance Berg/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT – U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Berg, a former federal prosecutor and former acting U.S. Attorney, was shot and wounded Thursday night on Detroit’s northwest side.

George Hunter of the Detroit News reports that it was an attempted robbery. He was shot in the leg outside his home in the city’s University District and taken to Sinai-Grace Hospital. He’s undergone surgery.

Two robbers tried to force Berg inside his home, but he didn’t comply with their demand. One shot him in the leg and both men fled. Berg’s wife and teenage son were inside.

Berg was appointed by President Obama and has been on the bench since 2012. It’s unclear what the circumstances are behind the shooting.

Berg, a very affable person, was born in Detroit in 1959.

More details to come.

Puerto Rico Man Charged with Threatening U.S. Attorney from Prison

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Puerto Rico man has been arrested and charged with threatening a U.S. Attorney while in jail, the FBI said Monday.

Jose Villafane-Cotto was charged last week with mailing threatening communication and threatening a federal official.

He is accused of threatening U.S. Attorney Rose Emilia Rodriguez Velez of the District of Puerto Rico in a letter.

“I want to inform the federal court that Rosa Emilia Rodriguez has a few days to announce her resignation or she will pay with her life,” the letter reads in Spanish.

The return address was the Pomce Correctional Facilities, where Villafane-Cotto has been lodged.

Villafane-Cotto also is accused of making threatening phone calls. In one, he allegedly said, ““Rosa Emilia, it’s me, Jose Villafane Cotto; remember I am after you and I’m searching for you. Please remember that. Don’t think that because I’m inside I can’t be outside. I’ll leave you with that. I know where you are and where you are going. I am not going to tell you anything else. I left you a very clear message. I hope you have received my letters. In an alerted war, nobody dies.”

Former Mississippi U.S. Attorney George Phillips Dies at 65 After Battle With Cancer

George Phillips

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

George Phillips, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1980 to 1994 and oversaw corruption cases, including the FBI’s Operation Pretense, which led to the prosecutions of 57 Mississippi supervisors on corruption charges, has died the Clarion-Ledger reports.. He was 65.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that he died of cancer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy of Jackson told the paper that Phillips was “like a second Dad to me. He was a Christian, and his character reflected that. He was honest, truthful and passionate about life, both personally and professionally. George is the reason I have a career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.”

To read more click here.

Bicentennial of U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan

U.S. Attorney McQuade

By Ross Parker

If you run into Barb McQuade, the U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan some time in 2015, congratulate her for her Office’s milestone. This year marks the Bicentennial of the appointment of the first USA in Michigan Territory, Solomon Sibley in 1815. This makes the USAO the oldest law enforcement agency in the state.

Before there was a federal district court, a police force, any federal criminal investigative agency, or even the State of Michigan, there was a U.S. Attorney’s Office. Of course the log cabin where Sibley represented the federal government’s interests, among his other legal clients, is hardly recognizable as a USAO by today’s standards. He had a desk, a supply of quill pens, some ancient English law books, and a fireplace to get him through those rugged winters.

For his federal cases he was paid $5 per court day. Transportation was by horseback, mostly on Indian trails. There were few roads. Communication with Washington was slow and erratic. It took about two months to receive letters sent to the rustic village of Detroit. Since the Justice Department would not be created for 55 years, Sibley and his successors had limited support or guidance from the Capitol.

It is difficult to appreciate the uncertainties surrounding law and the judicial system in those early years when the infant nation was struggling to exist. Translating the rule of law and the concept of justice into the hard scrabble everyday lives of the settlers was an uncharted course. Even after determining a rough idea of what the law was supposed to be, the conflict between policy and practice was particularly challenging in Michigan because of its history of occupation by the Indian tribes, the French, the British, and then the American settlers whose heritage was from many different countries. Due process developed case by case involving people of widely diverse cultural backgrounds, people who had very different ideas about what the law was and how it should be applied in particular situations on the frontier.

Civil cases included collecting debts owed to the federal government, sorting out the chaotic French land grants and estates and interpreting Army supply contracts. The first case involved a forfeiture action against a shipment of lumber which had been smuggled into the Detroit port to avoid payment of duty.

Criminal cases involved charges of counterfeiting, receiving stolen goods and larceny, and starting a riot. The early USAs were practical men. When there were not enough grand jurors to make a quorum, they simply sent the U.S, Marshal out to round up some bystanders.

Sibley and the other USAs started out with the elementary principle that this would be a government of laws and not men. The rights and liabilities of the citizenry were given life incrementally by the resolution of disputes about the application of law, not the exercise of discretion by the powerful. However imperfect at times, the process slowly evolved into the due process system we enjoy today.

No law enforcement institution is perfect. There have been cases lost and prosecutions unsuccessful. But the USAO EDMI has been remarkably free of impropriety. Of course there was that attempt by USA Daniel LeRoy in 1828 to resign in exchange for half of a successor’s $250 annual salary. But the USAO soldiered on through the challenges of the Civil War and its aftermath of crime, the explosive expansion of the federal government near the end of the 19th and throughout the 20th Centuries, the failed social experiment of Prohibition with its court congestion, crime and corruption.

Like the rest of America it was a white male institution with no women or African American attorneys until the late 1940s. Appointments of Assistants was a political process into the 1960s with each new administration brooming out the AUSAs to make room for new appointees, who then started from scratch to build an experience level to cope with a burgeoning caseload.

But somehow the legacies and progress continued despite these counter-productive practices. As Justice Cardozo noted a century ago, justice is a concept that is never finished but which reproduces itself generation after generation in ever changing forms.

So happy birthday to my former colleagues and staff in the USAO. Your work is important to that process of rebirth and toward a system which protects every person’s right to a fair day in court.

If your computer is freezing up and a federal judge has been tough on you on a particular day, remember it could be worse. You could be putting your briefs in a saddlebag and trudging through the snow on an Indian trail to get to court instead of scampering across Fort Street.

 

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Endorses Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) announced Thursday its support for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Lynch is currently the U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn.

The Association, in a statement said:

 Today, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) announced its support for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

FLEOA stands behind her proven leadership and her support for those who investigate and enforce the federal statutes.  In 2011, Ms. Lynch was selected as the FLEOA Foundation’s Law Enforcement Honoree of the Year. Her accomplishments and her leadership continue to resonate in the law enforcement community, and she possesses the requisite institutional knowledge that is required of the position of Attorney General.

After the President announced his nomination of Ms. Lynch, FLEOA National President Jon Adler stated, “In light of the turbulent climate confronting law enforcement, we need a strong leader like U.S. Attorney Lynch to bring a calm, well‐informed perspective to the Attorney General position. Knowing U.S. Attorney Lynch’s fine character and judicial talents, I foresee her balancing her title with equal strength both as our nation’s lead Attorney and as our legal General.”

Eric Holder Applauds The Nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Obama has nominated Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, 55, to replace Eric Holder as attorney general. She would be the first black woman to head up the department.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement Saturday:

 “Loretta Lynch is an extraordinarily talented attorney, a dedicated public servant, and a leader of considerable experience and consummate skill. I am certain that she will be an outstanding Attorney General, and I am delighted to join President Obama in congratulating her on this prestigious appointment.

“Throughout her career, and especially during her tenure as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York – during both the Clinton and Obama Administrations – Loretta has earned the trust and respect of Justice Department employees at every level, in Washington and throughout the country. She is held in high regard by criminal justice, law enforcement, and civil rights leaders of all stripes. And from her time as a career attorney, prosecuting high-profile public corruption cases, to her leadership of sensitive financial fraud and national security investigations, she has proven her unwavering fidelity to the law – and her steadfast dedication to protecting the American people.”

 

Ex-Fed Prosecutor Alan M. Gershel Who Helped Convicted Detroit Police Chief is Named Head of the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission

Alan M. Gershel

Alan M. Gershel, a law school professor and ex-federal prosecutor whose high-profile cases included the prosecution of Detroit Police Chief William L. Hart, has been named grievance administrator for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission.

The commission is the investigative and prosecutorial arm of the Supreme Court for allegations of attorney misconduct.

“Mr. Gershel has a focused vision for the future, decades of experience successfully managing a team of attorneys, and a reputation for professional integrity that will be a credit to the AGC,” Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr.  said in a statement.

Gershel resigned from Cooley Law School last Friday.

Gershel replaces interim administrator John Van Bolt.  Bolt was filling in after administrator Robert Agacinski, was fired earlier this year. Agacinski is suing Young and the Grievance Commission, alleging he was fired for reporting illegal misconduct of commission staff members.

Gershel was one of three prosecutors who convicted Chief Hart in May 1992 for embezzling funds earmarked for undercover operations.  Gershel also helped oversee an FBI sting involving local Detroit judges that resulted in a number of them pleading guilty in the late 1980s.

Gershel, a 1978 graduate of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, taught at Thomas M. Cooley Law School from 2008-2014. Before that, he worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for nearly 30 years, and was chief of the Criminal Division from 1989-2008.