Longtime Justice Department prosecutor John Roth is leaving after 25 years to become director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
Roth is currently based in France, where he is the Department of Justice’s lead representative on the Financial Action Task Force in Paris, an intergovernmental organization fighting against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Office of Criminal Investigations is the FDA’s criminal enforcement arm, overseeing investigations of suspected violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, among other things. Roth said in an interview with Main Justice that he will supervise a staff of 280 in his new position.
Roth called it “bittersweet” to be leaving the department after a quarter centruy. ”I love the department, I love what they stand for and I love what they do,” he said.
He said he is attracted to the FDA job because the agency does work that is “vitally important” to the average American. About 25 percent of all consumer dollars are spent on items regulated by the FDA, he said.
Roth began in Justice Department career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan from 1987 to 1994. He then served as chief of the narcotics section at the Miami U.S. Attorney’s office from 1994 to 1999. Roth came to Washington as chief of the department’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, and from 2001 to 2004 he served as chief of the asset forfeiture and money laundering section.
In 2003 and 2004, he was detailed to the congressionally chartered National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission. He wrote – along with fellow commission staff members Douglas Greenburg, a partner at Latham & Watkins LLP; and Serena Wille, now of Allen & Overy LLP - an influential monograph on terrorist financing for the commission’s final report.
In 2004, Roth became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, working on fraud and public corruption cases. In 2007 he served as acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. He then became chief of staff to the Deputy Attorney General in 2008.
Roth is slated to begin his new role at the FDA at the end of June. The agency’s criminal investigations office is currently led by acting Director Kathleen Martin-Weis