U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade’s fight for a better Detroit stems from her roots: Pierson Street, on the city’s west side.
McQuade, U.S. Attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District, lived in a tiny 895 square-foot house on the street until she was nearly four, which now plays host to vacated and burned down homes, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Her parents met working for General Motors. She graduated from the University of Michigan’s law school in 1991 and returned to the city to practice with private firms before an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1998, eventually becoming Deputy Chief of the National Security Unit.
When she was began serving as U.S. Attorney in January 2010, she took down all the pictures in her office of historic Detroit, before it became a national symbol of recession-ravaged decay. She put up pictures of the modern city – looking forward. Her favorite is of the Joe Louis fist.
“I use it as an inspiration,” she told the Detroit Free Press. “Every once in a while, we get punched in the nose, but we pride ourselves in getting back up. Our resilience is what defines us.”
She hired 15 new attorneys her first year and increased her office’s budget by $1 million.
“The good old days are over,” she said. “I want to look at the present and the future.”
McQuade kept busy in her first year on the job, indicting Kwame Kilpatrick, the city mayor from 2002-2008, on 38 corruption charges. Kilpatrick allegedly used his nonprofit civic organization, the Kilpatrick Family Fund, as a slush fund for his friends and family. He was also charged with directing contractors to make payments to friend and contractor Bobby Ferguson in exchange for kickbacks. The indictment said the contracts generated “tens of millions of dollars” for Ferguson’s office, according to CNN.
Kilpatrick was already in prison for lying under oath about an extra-martial affair in a police whistleblower suit. He’ll go to trial for the indictment with co-defendants on Sept. 6, 2012.
Her office also prosecuted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber” who attempted to destroy Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas day 2009. He was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on all eight federal charges in his indictment.