The FBI is attempting to again focus public attention on the unsolved 2001 murder of a federal prosecutor in Seattle.
The bureau has published on its website details about the killing of Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Wales, who was shot at his home on Oct. 11, 2001. The FBI noted that the Justice Department has offered a $1 million reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. Ticklethewire.com was the first to report on the FBI’s continued interest in the case.
Wales worked in the Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1983 until his death, handling fraud cases.
Investigators handling his murder case initially focused their attention on a businessman, who was the subject of an unsuccessful prosecution by Wales, but authorities never charged the man.
Scott Kimball, a man convicted of several murders in Colorado, also has come under the scrutiny of investigators. He was in Seattle at the time of the murder and reportedly told the FBI after the murder that he could provide information about the case. But Kimball has denied that he killed Wales.
A former U.S. Attorney is among three U.S. District Court nominations President Barack Obama made Wednesday.
Obama nominated Wilma Lewis, who was the U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia from 1998 to 2001, for the U.S. District Court for the Virgin Islands. She would succeed, Raymond Finch, who retired.
Lewis has been the Interior Department Land and Minerals Management assistant secretary since 2009, after serving a brief stint as senior adviser to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
She previously served as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation managing associate general counsel for litigation from 2007 to 2008 and was a partner at the law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP from 2001 to 2007.
Lewis was the Interior Department associate solicitor for general law from 1993 to 1995 and inspector general from 1995 to 1998.
She also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C. from 1986 to 1993, holding leadership posts in the office’s Civil Division. Lewis started her professional career as an associate at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP from 1981 to 1986.
Lewis received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College in 1978 and her law degree from Harvard University in 1981.
Obama also nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Torresen for the U.S. District Court for Maine. She would succeed D. Brock Hornby, who retired.
Torresen has spent almost 15 years as a prosecutor in the Maine U.S. Attorney’s Office. She first joined the office in 1990, working on civil matters for four years. Torresen came back to the office in 2001 to handle cases in Northern Maine after she spent seven years in the Maine attorney general office’s criminal division appellate section.
She also was a lawyer at the law firm of Williams & Connolly LLP from 1988 to 1990 and clerked for U.S. District Judge Conrad K. Cyr in Maine from 1987 to 1988.
Torresen received her undergraduate degree from Hope College in 1981 and her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1987.
The president also nominated New Orleans city attorney Nannette Brown for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. She would succeed Stanwood R. Duval Jr., who retired.
Brown has been the city attorney for New Orleans since May 2010. She also served as the city’s sanitation department director from 1994 to 1996.
But she has spent most of her career in private practice, working at Chaffe McCall LLP from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2009 until 2010; Milling, Benson, Woodward LLP from 2000 to 2003; the Onebane Law Firm from 1996 to 1998 and Adams and Reese LLP from 1988 to 1992.
She also was a law professor at Loyola University from 2007 to 2009, Southern University from 1998 to 2000 and Tulane University from 1992 to 1994.
Brown received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) in 1985 and her law degree from Tulane in 1988. She also received a masters law degree from Tulane in 1998.
The Memphis U.S. Attorney’s office has established a Civil Rights Unit, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III of the Western District of Tennessee announced this week.
The new unit will prosecute cases involving hate crimes, discrimination, human trafficking, official misconduct and law enforcement public corruption. Perez and Stanton announced the establishment of the unit in front of the Memphis motel where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.
“The Justice Department is committed to enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws, and I am pleased that the Civil Rights Division has a strong partner here in Tennessee to help carry out this critical work,” Perez said, according to the DOJ.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker of the Western District of Tennessee will lead the unit. Western District of Tennessee Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Coleman and Jonathan Skrmetti, who came to Memphis this year from the DOJ Civil Rights Division in Washington, will serve with Parker in the unit.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Skrmetti is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Memphis who previously served in the DOJ Civil Rights Division.
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A federal prosecutor has returned to his post as the No. 2 official at the Maryland U.S. Attorney Office, the state’s U.S. Attorney said Tuesday.
Stephen Schenning was the First Assistant U.S. Attorney in Maryland from 1997 to 2001. Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein appointed him as the successor to former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart Goldberg, whom Deputy Attorney General James Cole tapped as his chief of staff. Schenning has been a Senior Litigation Counsel in the office since 2001.
“Steve Schenning brings extensive front-line expertise as a state and federal prosecutor, a hard-earned reputation for diligence and integrity, a lifelong commitment to public service and hands-on experience managing a U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “His sound judgment and steady leadership will be invaluable as we continue to deliver on our commitment to give the citizens of Maryland the highest caliber of federal law enforcement.”
Schenning, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s office, is serving his second stint as a federal prosecutor.
He first served in the office from 1984 to 1989, before spending eight years as an attorney at the Towson, Md., law firm of Nolan, Plumhoff & Williams Chtd. When he returned to the office in 1997, it was as the First Assistant U.S. Attorney under then-U.S. Attorney Lynne Battaglia. He then was interim U.S. Attorney in 2001 following Battaglia’s resignation.
In 2008, the DOJ lawyer received the Gary Jordan Award for his “integrity, ingenuity, fairness and dedication to public service,” according to a news release.
Schenning previously served as a state official before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office. He was an assistant state’s attorney for Baltimore County from 1975 to 1979. The lawyer then served as a Maryland assistant attorney general in 1980 and as chief of the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit from 1982 to 1984.
He received his undergraduate degree from Loyola College in 1969. The University of Maryland awarded him his law degree in 1974.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole has tapped the former No. 2 official in the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office as his chief of staff.
Stuart Goldberg, who was Maryland’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney from 2005 to 2010, was introduced to staff members in the Deputy Attorney General’s office as the chief of staff to Cole on Jan. 3. Cole was sworn in that day as the second highest-ranking official at the Justice Department through a recess appointment by President Barack Obama. Goldberg and Cole worked together in the DOJ Criminal Division Public Integrity Section during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein announced on Tuesday that Stephen Schenning, a 19-year veteran of the Baltimore-based U.S. Attorney’s office, has succeeded Goldberg as First Assistant U.S. Attorney. He previously held that post from 1997 to 2001.
Rosenstein on Monday praised Goldberg for his service to the U.S. Attorney’s office, noting that the DOJ lawyer received an award at the 2010 Executive Office for United States Attorneys Director’s Awards Ceremony. The executive office honored Goldberg for his efforts to strengthen the Maryland office’s relationships with state and local law enforcement agencies, improve his office’s reputation and boost office morale.
“When you consult Stuart Goldberg, you know the advice you get will be straight, wise and nonpartisan,” said Rosenstein, whom President George W. Bush appointed in 2005. “He has superb judgment, outstanding legal skills and extensive managerial experience.”
Goldberg joined the DOJ in 1988, after a six-year stint as a civil litigator at Rogers & Wells LLP, which merged with London-based Clifford Chance LLP in 2000.
At the DOJ, he first was assigned to the Public Integrity Section as a Trial Attorney. He was promoted in the section to Senior Litigation Counsel in 1992 and Deputy Chief for Litigation in 1999. Goldberg became the section’s Principal Deputy Chief in 2002.
He has taught professional responsibility as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and public corruption and other criminal matters at the DOJ’s National Advocacy Center.
Goldberg received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in 1979. Harvard University awarded him his law degree in 1982.
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Sam Ramer, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia and prosecutor in New York City, is now crime counsel to the House Judiciary Committee.
Ramer will be working under Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and is one of several counsels advising the panel, according to a House Judiciary aide.
A graduate of Brandeis University and Boston University Law School, Ramer attributes his keen interest in criminal law to his upbringing in South Bronx Section 8 public housing. “The crime rate was through the roof, and I would see scared members of the community. It made a real impact on me; I wanted to make a change,” Ramer said in an interview with Main Justice.
After law school, Ramer returned to the Bronx, working in the District Attorney’s office for a few years. He then transferred to the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office in Manhattan, an assignment that had personal meaning.”I always hated drugs as a kid,” he said. “This was a time when people thought New York City was ungovernable, that we’d never be able to fix the problem.”
He then returned to the District Attorney’s office in the Bronx and worked under the major crimes task force. His load included first-degree murder cases, gangs and large narcotics-trafficking cases. One case that stood out for him was an interstate gun-trafficking case involving the purchase and transport of 102 guns from Virginia to New York.
Six years later Ramer moved to the District of Columbia, where he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney. “Working with the Justice Department was a much more labor intensive and sophisticated process,” he said.
From there, he went to work for Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for a year and a half, providing legal guidance to senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specifically, he prepared memoranda, presented issues, drafted questions and outlined expenses — something that Ramer had never done before. However, as a detailee, he was not allowed to work on nominations or oversight issues.
While he worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was pleased to see the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. But there were disappointments, too. He cited the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, in which he had hoped to see a provision authorizing U.S. Marshals permission to obtain administrative subpoenas, a tool afforded to agencies like the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, to pursue sex offenders. The subpoena power would have allowed U.S. Marshalls to seize items like rent records and credit card accounts to help the U.S. Marshals track down unregistered sex offenders through a paper trail.
As to why goals aren’t always accomplished, he has his own theories. Sometimes, he said, members run out of time, or issues just fall off the radar.
“It’s an adversarial process and nothing like trial work. Everyone is extremely professional and wants good government policy,” he said. “It’s just different world views. The Democrats and Republicans are struggling for an overlapping world view over some policy concerns.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that Ramer worked for the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office in Manhattan.
Peter Robinson helped send to prison individuals in the northwestern United States looking to establish an ethnically pure territory in the 1980s. Now, he helps defend a man accused of orchestrating genocide in a Balkan republic.
Robinson, a 57-year-old former Assistant U.S. Attorney, was part of the successful prosecutions in the 1980s of more than two dozen members of The Order, a neo-Nazi organization that committed crimes across the western United States. In 2008, the former prosecutor became a legal adviser to former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, who faces war crimes charges in The Hague stemming from the Bosnian War in the 1990s.
The journey from a U.S. courtroom to an international tribunal is an unusual trip for an American. Only a small fraction of the roughly 40 lawyers currently in The Hague representing individuals accused of war crimes are from the United States, Robinson told Main Justice in a recent interview.
The defense lawyers in The Hague are the consummate underdogs, fighting courtroom battles at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on behalf of their clients who are the accused conspirators in massacres that killed thousands of people.
But to Robinson, Karadzic is just a man who deserves a fair trial.
“One of the things that motivates me is that I really strongly believe in human rights, and I think that if the trials of the tribunals aren’t the product of a fair trial with a vigorous defense, then the whole international criminal justice system doesn’t work,” Robinson said. “It becomes like show trials like Saddam Hussein’s case.”
Robinson cut his teeth on cases after he joined Oregon U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1978. His first prosecution as an Assistant U.S. Attorney was a case involving stolen timber from a national forest.
He eventually moved to fraud and public corruption cases as a Justice Department lawyer, taking assignments at the Public Integrity Section and the Northern District of California U.S. Attorney’s Office before leaving the DOJ in 1988 to become a defense lawyer in the United States.
But, in 2000, Robinson made another change in his career. He applied to be a defense counsel in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
“My daughter at that time was 11-years-old, and she had lived at the same house her whole life, and she’d gone to the same school all her life, and I wanted her to be a world citizen,” Robinson said. “I looked around for someplace where I could do something related to criminal law for a year while my family lived abroad, and I found out about these war crimes tribunals.”
Robinson first helped represent Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic, who was convicted in 2001 of genocide for the deaths of about 7,500 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1995. He is now serving a 35-year prison sentence.
The lawyer then helped defend Dragoljub Ojdanic, an ex-army general under former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. Ojdanic was convicted in 2009 on charges stemming from the deportation of 800,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo in 1999 during the Kosovo War. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Robinson also led the legal team for Joseph Nzirorera, the former president of the Rwandan National Assembly, who faced genocide charges in United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for the murders of 800,000 people. Nzirorera died last summer before his trial was finished. He had been on trial for seven years.
The lawyer said he spends long hours working on the cases reviewing voluminous boxes of documents and appearing before the tribunals. But he said his clients are like “very high-quality co-counsel[s].”
“They’re leaders of either the military or civilian part of the government, and they tend to be very, very intelligent, very hard-working, very capable individuals,” Robinson said. “They’re really very easy to work with as clients because they’re sophisticated, and they are able to contribute quite a bit to their own defense in terms of knowledge and being able to communicate the information.”
Robinson said he and Karadzic have a “great relationship.” The former Bosnian Serb president is representing himself in his trial, but Robinson is his legal adviser. Robinson said Karadzic chose him as his legal adviser because the former Bosnian Serb president was a psychiatrist and a writer, not a lawyer.
“He’s a really charismatic, personable guy and very likable,” Robinson said.
Then, there’s “Draga.” He’s a fictional Serbian warlord, who goes on trial for war crimes in a novel by Robinson.
The Tribunal, published in 2004, chronicles the exploits of defense attorney Kevin Anderson, who represents Draga and is in a battle to save his kidnapped daughter.
Robinson said the events in the book are sensationalized, and his life in The Hague is “much more sedate.” An autobiography, he said, “would put everyone asleep.”
The lawyer said The Tribunal is probably his last book.
“It’s much easier to defend a war criminal than to write a novel,” Robinson said.
A convicted tax defier faces charges for allegedly filing a fraudulent $1.3 billion lien against an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Maryland and seeking false tax refunds, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
Andrew Isaac Chance, a retired D.C. transit authority employee from Clinton, Md., filed the lien last year against the property of the prosecutor who handled the original false income tax return case against him, according to a federal grand jury indictment returned Monday.
The court document identifies the Assistant U.S. Attorney as “S.D.” A news release issued after Chance’s conviction in 2007 names Maryland Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Dunne as the prosecutor in the tax return case.
The Maryland resident is also charged with filing more false tax returns, which allegedly sought $900,000.
A trial date hasn’t been scheduled yet. He faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine as much as $1 million, if convicted.
Chance’s wife, Liza Chance, declined comment to Main Justice when reached by telephone. A DOJ spokeswoman didn’t have an immediate comment.
In October 2007, Chance was sentenced to 27 months in prison and two years of supervised release for filing the false tax return. He was released from prison in June 2009 and is now serving supervised release.
Tax Division Trial Attorneys Jen E. Ihlo and Mark S. McDonald are prosecuting the case.
An Assistant U.S. Attorney in Wyoming is a candidate for a federal judgeship in the state, Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) said Thursday.
Steven K. Sharpe, a prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the Wyoming U.S. Attorney’s office, is one of three lawyers Freudenthal recommended that President Barack Obama nominate to succeed retiring U.S. District Judge William Downes.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be named as a candidate to succeed Judge Downes,” Sharpe told Main Justice.
Sharpe started as a Wyoming Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2002. He spent five years in the office’s Civil Division before moving to its Criminal Division.
He has handled a wide array of cases in the Criminal Division, including prosecutions for drug, gun and fraud offenses.
Former federal prosecutors were mostly victorious in their congressional bids for office Tuesday.
Ex-Justice Department lawyers won House and Senate races in Texas, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Arkansas. But two former DOJers lost races for the U.S. Senate seats in Iowa and Colorado.
With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a former federal prosecutor, was elected to his fourth term with 65 percent of the vote. His challenger, Democrat Ted Ankrum, a former NASA executive, received 33 percent of the vote for the seat representing parts of Houston and Austin.
McCaul served in the DOJ Public Integrity Section and Civil Division in D.C. from 1991 to 1999, and as Chief of Counterterrorism and National Security Division in the Western District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2002 to 2003.
Former U.S. Attorneys Tom Marino of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Patrick Meehan of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut also won congressional elections, as did former interim U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
But two former Justice Department lawyers did not fare as well.
On Wednesday morning, the Denver Post called the state’s Senate race for Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. The race, between Bennet and Republican Ken Buck, a former Colorado Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1990 to 2001, remained close throughout Tuesday night. With 87 percent of precincts reporting, Bennet leads Buck by about 7,000 votes. According to the Denver Post, state law will require a recount if Buck closes the gap to less than 3,900 votes.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Roxanne Conlin, a former U.S. Attorney, received 33 percent of the vote in her bid to unseat Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley won 65 percent of the vote.
Conlin was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa from 1977 to 1981. The former prosecutor was also the Democratic nominee for Iowa governor in 1982. Conlin has been in private practice since 1983. She is a partner at Des Moines law firm Roxanne Conlin & Associates PC.