Does Neil MacBride’s rising media profile suggest he’s being groomed for a higher position?
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia suddenly seems to be everywhere. He appeared at a recent American Bar Association panel to discuss enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act - even though U.S. Attorneys by policy leave that work to Main Justice . In October, he represented the Justice Department at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce panel discussing corporate prosecutions.
With a slew of interesting cases in his district outside Washington, D.C., he’s also garnered significant media attention from local and national outlets in recent weeks. ”He must be going somewhere,” an unnamed law enforcement official in Norfolk, Va., told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.
The Eastern Virginia district has had high-profile cyber crime and international terrorism cases, including the 2010 conviction of Somali pirates who attacked a U.S. Navy frigate. MacBride told the Virginian-Pilot last week that the shift in focus is merely a reflection of the globalization occurring among crime networks. “Businessmen don’t recognize borders anymore,” he said, “and neither do criminals.”
“In the last few years, we have made a shift to identifying emerging threats, whether it’s human trafficking or copyright or Internet jihadis or trademark threat, and building cases where the bad guys, or the alleged bad guys, may sit outside our district or even outside our country,” MacBride told the newspaper. “What makes us unique is we’re prosecuting cases with a seemingly local crime that ultimately, as we peel back the onion, we find roots outside our district and outside our country.”
MacBride took the helm of the Alexandria, Va.-based office in 2009 after a quick Senate confirmation. He had been serving as an Associate Deputy Attorney General when the president nominated him for the position. He’d earlier been general counsel and vice president of the Business Software Alliance, a trade association backed by Microsoft Corp. and other tech companies, working on global copyright enforcement.
The Oneonta, N.Y., native attended Houghton College in Buffalo, N.Y., and the University of Virginia School of Law. After graduating from Houghton, he became a field organizer for current Vice President Joe Biden’s 1987 bid for president. He later became the Democrat’s chief counsel from 2001 to 2005. He also later served as an Assistant U.S. attorney in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office.
The 47-year-old lives in Arlington, Va., with his wife and three children, the newspaper said.
U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr., in the Eastern District of Virginia, said his former law clerk is someone to watch out for.
“He’s the kind of guy who has the whole package,” Morgan told the newspaper. “He’s a good husband and father and a good friend. He was very intelligent and conscientious as a law clerk. He was the kind of person you wanted to keep up with.”