Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’
Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

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.

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Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

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 receives an award during the 2010 Executive Office for United States Attorneys Director’s Awards Ceremony. (photo by Andrew Ramonas / Main Justice)

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.

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The Senate confirmed five former and current prosecutors for federal judgeships over the weekend, following the confirmation last Thursday of four other new judges. The recent actions break a logjam of nominees that Democrats had complained were being held up by Senate Republican objections.

In the action over the weekend:

  • Raymond Joseph Lohier Jr. was confirmed as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Lohier is the chief of the securities and commodities fraud task force in the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. He has also served as deputy chief and chief of the office’s narcotics unit and deputy chief of the securities and commodities fraud task force during his 10 years at the office. Read more about him here.
  • Carlton W. Reeves was confirmed as a U.S.  District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi. Reeves worked in the district’s U.S. Attorney office from 1995 to 2001. He served as chief of the civil division and district election officer. Read more about him here.
  • Edmond E-Min Chang was confirmed as a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. He has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the district since 1999. He has served as chief of appeals in the criminal division and deputy chief of the general crimes division. Read more about him here.
  • Ellen Lipton Hollander was confirmed as a U.S. District Judge for Maryland. She worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Baltimore from 1979 to 1983. Read more about her here.
  • Denise Jefferson Casper was confirmed as a U.S. District Judge for Massachusetts. She worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston from 1999 to 2005. Read more about her here.

Raymond Lohier (New York University)

Carlton W. Reeves (Pigott Reeves Johnston)

Ellen Lipton Hollander (gov)

Denise Casper (Boston Bar Association)

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

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.

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Friday, November 5th, 2010

The U.S. Attorney for Maryland on Thursday defended Justice Department efforts to ensure prosecutors divulge exculpatory evidence to defense lawyers, pushing back against concerns that the federal government doesn’t always adhere to its disclosure obligations.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein told defense lawyers at an American Bar Association town hall meeting that the DOJ has taken steps over the last year to bolster its prosecutors’ knowledge of Brady v. Maryland, the 1963 Supreme Court case that requires prosecutors to turn over exculpatory information to the defense. The DOJ came under fire last year after Brady issues led to the dismissal of the case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

Rosenstein said the DOJ takes its lawyers’ discovery obligations seriously. He said prosecutors now have regular Brady training, discovery coordinators at their disposal and written office policies on Brady to review. The U.S. Attorney also said the DOJ is developing a book for its lawyers that will address discovery issues that may come up while working on a case.

“There is a change in the culture of the department,” Rosenstein said. “I think you’ll see this if you talk to the newer [Assistant U.S. Attorneys] about what they’re being taught about disclosure.”

Robert Cary, who represented Stevens, applauded DOJ efforts to address Brady concerns, but said the department needs to do more.

He said the DOJ still gives its lawyers broad discretion that may allow a prosecutor to disregard some of its guidance. Cary said there should be “an unambiguous rule” that would mandate the procurement of all exculpatory evidence.

“I think a rule that removes that ambiguity, that removes that ability to rationalize nondisclosure to the defense would go a long way towards restoring confidence and trust in the system,” said Cary, a partner at Williams & Connolly LLP in D.C.

Rosenstein said such a rule isn’t needed.

“I think it’s unnecessary because we already have Brady and when there are violations of Brady, the consequences can be pretty severe for prosecutors who violate it, and the proposed rule, which would fundamentally change the regime, does a lot more than solve the problem of the occasional violation,” Rosenstein said.

Cary also called on DOJ investigators to record their interviews with cooperating witnesses. The DOJ has been reviewing whether to change the FBI policy of not recording interviews.

Rosenstein said the amount of material produced by recorded interviews could be “overwhelming” and dramatically increase the amount of time necessary to prepare for a case.

“In the world that we live in, I think we do to some extent have to depend upon the good faith and the discretion of agents and prosecutors and train them to be attuned to the facts that matter and make a note in a record,” Rosenstein said.

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Friday, October 15th, 2010

The leader of  Congress’s ethics office will return to the Justice Department, Time reported Friday.

Leo Wise will join the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office after serving as the first staff director and chief counsel of the two-year-old Office of Congressional Ethics, which was the House’s lead ethics watchdog. He previously worked at DOJ headquarters as a counsel to the Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General.

The office has come under fire from House members, who claimed they were unjustly singled out by the quasi-independent agency. The body makes recommendations to the House Standards Committee on how the panel should handle ethics matters.

“I’m proud of what we accomplished,” Wise said, according to Time. “It was an honor to help build the OCE and lead it through its first Congress.”

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Friday, September 17th, 2010

A former Maryland Assistant U.S. Attorney unseated a 15-year incumbent as the top state prosecutor in Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun reported Friday.

Gregg Bernstein (Zuckerman Spaeder LLP)

Gregg Bernstein, who was a federal prosecutor in Maryland from 1987 to 1991, will replace Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, who conceded on Friday. He is currently a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.

“The citizens view Gregg Bernstein as a state’s attorney who can make Baltimore a safe city,” Bernstein supporter Steven H. Levin told the newspaper.

The former Assistant U.S. Attorney edged out Jessamy by less than 1,400 votes in the bitter election that pitted prosecutors against police and divided parts of Baltimore on racial lines, according to The Sun. He has never sought elected office before.

Bernstein has said his top priorities will be combating crime and aggressively prosecuting criminals.

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Friday, September 17th, 2010

Two Assistant U.S. Attorneys and two prosecutors from Justice Department headquarters are joining the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, a DOJ representative told Main Justice Friday.

They are:

- James Dinan, who will serve as the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Program and an Associate Deputy Attorney General. He previously was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C. for more than two decades, serving most recently as the office’s Criminal Division chief.

- Debbie Johnston, who will be an Associate Deputy Attorney General, focusing on law enforcement and criminal issues. She is on detail from the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, where she has served for 15 years. She is a Senior Litigation Counsel in the office.

- David O’Neil, who will serve as Associate Deputy Attorney General, focusing on criminal issues and national security. He most recently was an Assistant to the Solicitor General, providing advice on national security litigation and arguing cases in the Supreme Court.

- Armando Bonilla, who will be a Senior Counsel, focusing on criminal issues, computer forensics and information technology. He will also serve as the Government Accountability Office audit liaison. Bonilla previously served in the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, where he was a Trial Attorney.

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Justice Department operations in Washington, D.C., remained limited and U.S. Attorney’s offices in a half-dozen districts in the Northeast still were unable to open Thursday, according to DOJ officials, after another major snowstorm dumped more than a foot of snow throughout much of the East Coast on Wednesday.

DOJ headquarters building in Washington was open, but only for essential personnel, according to DOJ spokeswoman Gina Talamona. Many DOJ employees in Washington and at the six shuttered U.S. Attorney’s offices are working from their homes on BlackBerries, cell phones and laptops, officials said.

U.S. Attorney’s offices in 11 districts were closed yesterday.

According to DOJ spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz, the U.S. Attorney’s offices closed on Thursday are in:

  • Maryland. The offices in the district also were closed yesterday and on Monday.
  • The District of Columbia. The district’s office has been closed since Monday.
  • Delaware. The district’s office also was closed yesterday.
  • Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria office). The office has been closed since Monday.
  • New Jersey. (Camden and Trenton offices). The two offices also were closed yesterday.
  • Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The district’s offices were closed yesterday.

The Harrisburg U.S. Attorney’s office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania opened late today, Schwartz said.

Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein told Main Justice that about 10 staffers reported to work on Monday, one employee staffed the office on Wednesday and there are Assistant U.S. Attorneys working at the office today despite the closures. He said his staffers are able to do most of their work remotely. But they are having some difficulties, he said.

“The greatest challenge is for the AUSAs who have an ongoing trial or who were scheduled to start trials this week,” Rosenstein said. “They need to stay in touch with witnesses.”

The branches of the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office will open at 10 a.m. tomorrow with unscheduled leave, the U.S. Attorney said. But the U.S. District Court in Maryland will remain closed, he said.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

A crippling blizzard pounding the East Coast has forced nearly a dozen U.S. Attorney’s offices to close and has curtailed Justice Department operations in Washington today, according to DOJ officials.

A weekend snowstorm shut down the Justice Department on Monday. (photo by Ryan J. Reilly).

Many DOJ employees who work at DOJ headquarters in Washington and at U.S. Attorney’s offices stretching from Virginia to Rhode Island are working from home on BlackBerries, cell phone and laptops, the officials said.

The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington, the DOJ’s main building, is open for essential personnel who are able to make it through the heavy snow and 40 mile per hour winds. There are about 25,300 people who work for DOJ agencies in the Washington area, according to CNN.

Several U.S. Attorney’s offices and DOJ headquarters have been closed or have had limited operations since Monday because of a storm that brought more than a foot of snow to most of the East Coast last weekend, according to reports here and here.

Today’s storm hit while authorities were still struggling to clean up from the last one.

The U.S. Attorney’s offices that are closed today are in:

  • Maryland. The office was also closed on Monday.
  • The District of Columbia. The office has been closed since Monday.
  • The Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria office). The office has been closed since Monday.
  • The Western District of Virginia (Charlottesville and Harrisonburg offices).
  • The Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • The Middle District of Pennsylvania.
  • The Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh and Johnstown offices).
  • The Eastern District of New York.
  • New Jersey.
  • Rhode Island.
  • Delaware.

U.S. Attorney’s offices in the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western District of Arkansas, Northern District of Oklahoma, Western District of Tennessee and Kansas were shuttered on Monday because of the weather, according to CNN. The Eastern District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s Office was also closed on Tuesday, CNN said.

DOJ spokesperson Gina Talamona told Main Justice that DOJ public safety and national security functions are “operational.” She added that the DOJ has made special arrangements for its legal division attorneys to work during the storms and keep up with court deadlines.

This report has been corrected from an earlier version.