U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced several personnel changes in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Michigan along with the creation of several new units, The Press and Guide reported.
McQuade — who cited the Detroit-based office’s priorities as terrorism, public corruption, violent crime, civil rights and financial fraud — said the office’s old structure was outdated. Among the changes:
- Violent and Organized Crime Unit — The new unit will be headed by John O’Brien, who has been with the office for eight years and previously was chief assistant prosecuting attorney of the Oakland County prosecutor’s office.
- Public Corruption Unit — The new unit will be supervised by Kathryn McCarthy, who has be the chief of the Controlled Substances Unit and an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 1995. Previously, she worked at the Oakland County prosecutor’s office.
- Civil Rights Unit — The existing unit will be supervised by Judith Levy, who has been with the U.S. Attorney’s office since 2000 and previously worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Financial Fraud Unit — The existing unit will be divided into three units — a White Collar Crime Unit, a Complex Fraud Unit, and a Health Care Fraud Unit. The White Collar Crime Unit will be supervised by Cynthia Oberg, who has worked in the office since 1992 and previously was a criminal defense attorney. The Complex Fraud Unit will be supervised by Stephen Hiyama, a 25-year veteran of the office. The Health Care Fraud Unit will be supervised by Wayne Pratt, who has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 1983.
Several other units were not reorganized. According to the Press and Guide:
- Jonathan Tukel will continue to head up the National Security Unit.
- Dawn Ison will serve as chief of the Drug Task Force.
- Kevin Mulcahy will be chief of the General Crimes Unit.
- Peter Caplan was named the new head of the Affirmative Litigation Unit.
- Julie Beck will serve as chief of Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit.
- Vanessa Mays will head the Defensive Litigation Unit.
Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade has launched an “internal inquiry” to find out who is leaking information to the news media about a federal investigation of public corruption in the Detroit City Council.
McQuade said she won’t stand for leaks by federal officials or criminal defendants, according to The Associated Press. But the U.S. Attorney said she can’t prevent witnesses from speaking to the press.
“Investigations are kept confidential for a number of important reasons, including protecting the integrity of the investigation, protecting the safety of witnesses and protecting targets of investigation from public suspicion when no charges have been filed,” McQuade said in a statement, according to The Detroit News. She also called on other federal agencies such as the FBI to also conduct internal inquiries on the leaks.
Former Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers, the wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), was sentenced to three years and one month in prison last month as part of the public corruption probe. Nine others have pleaded guilty to corruption charges.
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Arab-Americans criticized federal law enforcement officials Wednesday, saying that prosecutors have unfairly targeted them, The Detroit Free Press reported.
In a meeting at the Lebanese-American Heritage Club in Dearborn, Mich., several Arab-Americans said they were concerned by the recent prosecutions of two men: Muthana Al-Hanooti, who allegedly worked for the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and Tim Attallah, an attorney who was charged in May in connection with an investigation into a motorcycle gang.
Local, state and federal law enforcement officials attended the meeting, which was part of a statewide program called BRIDGES — Building Respect in Diverse Communities — that was founded after the Sept. 11 attacks to increase communication between the community and law enforcement.
“We’re very disturbed by what’s happened,” Suehaila Amen, a community advocate, said at the meeting.
Imad Hamad, co-chair of BRIDGES and head of the Michigan office of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, also raised the case of the death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a Muslim leader suspected of dealing in stolen goods who was killed during a shootout with FBI agents, saying Arab-Americans “can’t help but think who could be next.”
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade said her office does not target people based on their ethnicity.
“Our focus is on activity and not on anyone’s ethnicity,” McQade said.
“We focus on individuals involved in criminal activity or threats to national security to the United States,” Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI office, told the paper after the meeting.
Arena reiterated that the agency does not target people based on their religion or ethnicity.
“Terrorists are from all walks of life, and there are different groups out there,” Arena said.
Attorney General Eric Holder said at the investiture for the Detroit-based U.S. Attorney today that the prosecutor is a “strong addition” to the nation’s 93 U.S. Attorneys.
Holder lauded Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade in prepared remarks delivered in Detroit at the swearing-in ceremony, which was attended by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and McQuade’s family, friends and colleagues. The Attorney General said he was “immediately impressed” with McQuade when he met with her last year to talk about taking the job.
“She obviously possessed a deep understanding of complex legal and national security issues, and evinced an unwavering faith in the justice system that she has spent a career serving,” Holder said. “But I was also struck by Barb’s faith in her colleagues here in the Eastern District of Michigan, and her conviction that this office could play an important role in addressing the challenges facing Southeastern Michigan.”
McQuade, who was officially sworn into office early last month, said in a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press that improving the efficiency of her 108-employee office is one of her top priorities.
She also told the newspaper that fighting violent crime, terrorism and public corruption are priorities.
Her office is prosecuting a public corruption case involving former Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers, who is married to Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan. McQuade and her prosecutors are also handling the case against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly hid explosives in his underwear in a failed attempt to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.
“In the aftermath of that attempted attack, Barb has been charged with overseeing the very important prosecution that has resulted. And she’s impressed me once again,” Holder said. “She has enlisted the cooperation of the Justice Department’s law enforcement partners at every level. And she is insuring that her office will be able to present the strongest case possible.”
Holder now has attended eight U.S. Attorney investitures.
Attorney General Eric Holder is slated to be on hand at the ceremonial swearing-in tomorrow for the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.
Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade was officially sworn in on Jan. 4, less than two weeks after the Senate confirmed her. But U.S. Attorneys often have a ceremonial investiture later on, with local, state and federal leaders in attendance.
Holder has attended seven U.S. Attorney investitures so far. He was at the swearing-in ceremonies for Carmen Ortiz in Massachusetts, Paul Fishman in New Jersey, Timothy Heaphy in the Western District of Virginia, Neil MacBride in the Eastern District of Virginia, Preet Bharara in the Southern District of New York, B. Todd Jones in Minnesota and Joyce Vance in the Northern District of Alabama.
Read our article here about the prestige the Attorney General can bring to U.S. Attorneys by attending their swearing-in ceremonies.
McQuade’s office is currently handling a few high profile cases, including the case against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly hid explosives in his underwear in a failed attempt to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. She is also working to improve efficiency in her office.
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The new U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan is getting ready to crack the whip in her Detroit-based office, the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who was sworn into office early last month, told the newspaper that improving the efficiency of her 108-employee office is one of her top priorities.
“We have a number of seasoned, experienced lawyers in the office, but many of them have been around for a very long time, and we get into sort of complacent habits,” McQuade told the Free Press. The “we” applies to her as well: She has worked in the office since 1998.
The Detroit-based U.S. Attorney said she is considering dividing up office divisions that have “grown too big” and giving more staffers managerial responsibilities, according to the newspaper. Last week, she shook up the office by making several changes to her office’s leadership.
“We’ve sort of promoted people for life, and then they sort of sit there, and although they have a lot to offer, we haven’t tried new ideas because people have been occupying the same places for a long time,” McQuade told the Free Press. “I think giving people different opportunities to lead and share their ideas is very important.”
McQuade told the newspaper that she made up her mind that she wanted to be U.S. Attorney when she wasn’t promoted to criminal division chief for the Eastern District office in 2008. She then met with local lawyers, judges and politicians to gather their opinions on the office, according to the newspaper. They told her that Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney’s Office was having a productivity problem, the Free Press said.
Then-U.S. Attorney candidate McQuade presented a plan to address office output to a U.S. Attorney screening panel, according to the newspaper. A member of the committee told the Free Press that’s McQuade’s decision to make a plan was “virtually unheard of.”
Although addressing office productivity is important, McQuade also told the newspaper that fighting violent crime, terrorism and public corruption are priorities.
Her office is handling the case against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly hid explosives in his underwear in a failed attempt to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. The office also is prosecuting a public corruption case involving former Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers, who is married to Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan.
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Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade made several changes to her office’s leadership, The Detroit News reported today.
Those getting promotions are:
- Jennifer Gorland
- New post: First Assistant U.S. Attorney
- Old post: General crimes unit chief
- Replaces: Terrence Berg
- Stephanie Dawkins Davis
- New post: Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney
- Old post: Trial attorney
- Replaces: Blondell Morey
- Daniel Lemisch
- New post: Criminal division chief
- Old post: Trial attorney
- Replaces: Eric Straus
“These staffing changes will help the office carry out our responsibilities to serve the public,” McQuade said in a statement to the newspaper.
The U.S. Attorney also said Elizabeth Larin will stay on as the office’s civil division chief and Patricia Gaedeke will continue serving as the appellate division chief, according to The Detroit News.
McQuade, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Detroit-based office, took office last month. Her office will prosecute suspected al-Qaeda associate Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. She succeeded Stephen J. Murphy, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in 2008.
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Joshua Berman, a former federal prosecutor and candidate for U.S. Attorney in Detroit, has joined the Washington office of Katten Muchin Rosenman as a partner in the litigation and dispute practice, the firm announced.
Berman, who spent seven years as a prosecutor based in New York and Washington, was most recently head of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal’s Washington-based litigation practice and co-chairman of its white-collar and government investigations practice.
Since leaving the Justice Department in 2004, Berman has represented several clients in high-profile corruption matters, including two figures in the sweeping influence-peddling investigation centered on Jack Abramoff and his associates.
One of his clients, Robert Coughlin, a former deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison, was sentenced in November to 30 days in a halfway house for accepting about $5,000 in meals, drinks and tickets from an Abramoff lobbyist.
Another client, Kevin Koonce, a former aide to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), was cleared of wrongdoing and recently filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, alleging prosecutorial abuse.
Berman (Cornell, Michigan Law) was a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section from 2002 to 2004. Before moving to Washington, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York’s Southern District.
Last fall, a Justice Department official told Main Justice that Berman was among the finalists for the nomination to be U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan, but President Barack Obama ultimately nominated then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade for the position. She was confirmed last month.
Katten Muchin Rosenman also welcomed Glen Donath, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. office’s Fraud and Public Corruption Section. Donath, who also came from Sonnenschein, represented Koonce along with Berman.
Donath (Yale, University of Chicago Law) also has represented health care providers, financial institutions, investment funds, insurance companies and other corporations in complex civil and criminal proceedings.
Also joining Berman and Donath at Katten is Howard Rubin, a health care and appellate specialist. He was previously national chairman of Sonnenschein’s appellate practice.
“We are thrilled to be joining Katten’s vibrant national litigation, health care and white collar and government investigations practices,” Berman said.
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Detriot’s new U.S. Attorney says she wants to help local prosecutors pursue violent criminals, The Associated Press reports. Barbara McQuade — who already has her hands full preparing to prosecute Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas — told The AP that she doesn’t “want to step on toes” of local law enforcers.
But she said that given local budget constraints, it might make sense for federal prosecutors to offer assistance when possible.
Accused carjackers, armed robbers and people who illegally possess guns often can be prosecuted federally, if local prosecutors are unable to handle such cases, she told The AP.
McQuade was sworn in Jan. 4 as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. The Detroit area, home to struggling car makers, has been especially hard hit in the recession.
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U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who was sworn in Monday to head the Detroit office, has announced the team of prosecutors who will handle the Justice Department’s case against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Turkel, Cathleen Corken and Michael Martin have been assigned to the case, McQuade said in an interview with The Detroit Free Press Tuesday.
Turkel, a 20-year veteran of the office, is chief the office’s National Security Unit. Corken spent six years in the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section, four of them as deputy chief, before it was folded into the National Security Division. And Martin is a former trial lawyer in the NSD’s Counterespionage Section. He was also an intelligence analyst for the CIA.
“We assembled a team … with highly relevant experience for handling this case,” McQuade said.