Posts Tagged ‘Michael J. Sullivan’
Friday, January 22nd, 2010

A prosecutor in Boston is facing a three-judge panel today to determine whether he should be disciplined for allegedly withholding exculpatory evidence in an incident that led to another federal judge releasing accused mobsters from prison, The National Law Journal reports.

In 2007, District of Massachusetts Chief Judge Mark Wolf sent a complaint letter to the Massachusetts Bar Counsel about Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn. In the letter Wolf detailed missteps by Auerhahn in prosecuting alleged mobsters Vincent Ferrara and Pasquale Barone. A government witness recanted some statements about the defendants’ involvement in a murder, which Auerhahn did not disclose, Wolf said in the letter.

Auerhahn’s alleged misconduct conduct occurred between 1991 and 1993 but was not disclosed to the court until August 2002. A year later, then-U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan asked Wolf to hold off on referring the matter to the bar counsel’s office until the Justice Department’s internal ethics watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility, had completed its investigation.

In January 2005 OPR issued a 112-page report concluding that Auerhahn had acted in “reckless disregard of discovery obligations” and “exercised poor judgment,” although the ethics office found no evidence of intentional misconduct. Sullivan issued a written reprimand to Auerhahn.

In January 2008, Wolf sent a letter to then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey criticizing the Justice Department’s handling of Auerhahn. Wolf followed up with another letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in April 2009 asking for further review of the matter.

In the meantime, the bar counsel complaint was handed off the federal court case to Judge Joseph Tauro of the District of Massachusetts. Tauro selected district court judges George O’Toole Jr., William Young and Rya Zobel to sit on the three-judge review panel.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

Carmen Ortiz, the new U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, on Wednesday said she will step up efforts to prosecute financial fraud, the Associated Press reports.

The 53-year-old Ortiz was confirmed by the Senate Nov. 5 and sworn in three weeks ago. She replaced Michael J. Sullivan, who resigned April 19 to join the Ashcroft Group after eight years in the U.S. Attorney’s post.

Ortiz  had worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston for the last 12 years, mainly prosecuting economic crimes, including embezzlement, tax evasion, investment fraud and telemarketing schemes.

During a meeting with reporters, Ortiz said her efforts to root out financial fraud — in part by reaching out to government agencies and business — will help prevent another financial situation like the one caused by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, according to the AP. “What happened with Bernie Madoff, we should make every single effort to prevent that from happening again,” Ortiz told reporters, adding, “Victims should know that we’re open for business.”

She said another priority will be catching long-sought fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, who is the alleged leader of the Winter Hill Gang, a crime family in Boston, The AP reports. He has been charged in connection with 19 murders and is on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list.

Ortiz said she plans to meet with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and hopes to come up with “creative ways” to generate publicity and aid the search for Bulger, now 80.

“If he is present in people’s minds, then perhaps it could be that one tip that … could lead to his capture,” she said.

The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports that Ortiz also told reporters she plans to expand the U.S. Attorney’s office’s presence in Worcester, increasing the number of assistant U.S. Attorneys in the office from two to four. “There is a lot of business” in Central Massachusetts, Ortiz told reporters

The Worcester newspaper also reported that Ortiz did not back off the office’s commitment to continue prosecuting gun and gang violence cases even though they could also be prosecuted in state courts, where sentences are usually less severe. “Not all of those cases belong in federal court,” but “we do have an impact on the communities that are suffering due to gun and gang violence,” she said.  “We make a real effort to select the cases that belong in federal court,” she said. However, with some people disagreeing, she said, the policy will be reviewed.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to consider two U.S. Attorney nominees next Thursday, the panel announced today.

They are:

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

-Carmen M. Ortiz (Massachusetts): The Massachusetts Assistant U.S. Attorney would replace Michael J. Sullivan, who stepped down in April to join a law firm headed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Read more about the nominee here.

Ed Tarver (

Ed Tarver (

-Ed Tarver (Southern District of Georgia): The Georgia state senator and partner at Augusta, Ga. law firm Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley would succeed Edmund A. Booth Jr., who resigned earlier this month. Read more about Tarver here.

Another nine U.S. Attorney candidates have been nominated so far, but they haven’t come before the committee yet.

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

The Senate Judiciary Committee today released its questionnaire on Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi University, George Washington University Law School), nominated to replace Michael J. Sullivan as U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts. Sullivan resigned April 19 to join The Ashcroft Group.

Her vitals:

  • Born in New York City in 1956.
  • Has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts since 1997.
  • Was a senior trial attorney at the Quincy, Mass., law firm Morisi & Associates, P.C. from 1994 to 1997.
  • Taught at the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Mass. in 1995.
  • Was on the board of directors of Cambridge-based Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services from 1993 to 1996.
  • Was a member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys from 1992 to 1994.
  • Worked on Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1992 .
  • Worked in the Middlesex County, Mass. district attorney’’s office as an Assitant District Attorney from 1983 to 1988 and again from 1991 - 1994. She also was the director of district courts from 1992 to 1994 and the director of training from 1991 to 1992.
  • Was a program coordinator at Harvard Law School’s Center for Criminal Justice from 1988 to 1991.
  • Worked at the now-defunct Braintree, Mass., law office Marinelli & Morisi from 1988 to 1989.
  • Worked in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division as a trial attorney 1981 to 1983.
  • Was a summer intern in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section in 1980.
  • Has tried an estimated 150 cases to verdict, 36 percent of which were jury trials.
  • Worked for the National Football League as an investigator in 1990.
  • Was a hostess at Quincy’s Restaurant in Arlington, Va., from 1981 to 1982.
  • Worked at the Ortiz gift shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1974 to 1978.

Click here for her full questionnaire.

UPDATE: According to her Office of Government Ethics disclosure, Ortiz has numerous funds and stock holdings valued at between $379,025 and $1.52 million. She does not report owning any property or having any debt. On her Senate Judiciary Committee financial disclosure, Ortiz lists assets valued at $2,308,700 and liabilities of $55,100, for a net worth of $2,253,600. She reports $1,117,400 in real estate and has $452,200 in securities.

Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan (R) has announced he will not run in a special election to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), The Boston Hearld reported yesterday. Sullivan, who has mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for Kennedy’s open Senate seat, served as Massachusetts’ U.S. Attorney from 2001 to April 19. He now is a partner at the The Ashcroft Group.

Sullivan told the paper, “I went back and forth on it,”  adding, “But the deciding factor was I didn’t want to spend my son’s last two high school years like two ships passing in the night.” The Republican field is now narrowed to state Sen. Scott Brown and Canton selectman Robert Burr.

The Democratic-controlled legislature recently passed a law to allow Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to name a successor to serve in Kennedy’s seat until the state can hold a special election on Jan. 19. A state judge ruled that Patrick’s pick — former Democratic National Committee chairman Paul Kirk — could immediately take office, despite the usual 90-day grace-period required before new laws take effect. That ruling has stirred protests from Massachusetts Republicans. Kirk was sworn in as Kennedy’s replacement on Sept. 24. Kirk has said he will not run in the Jan. 19 special election to determine who will finish out Kennedy’s term.

The Democrats who have announced their candidacy for the special election are Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Rep. Michael Capuano, Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and Alan Khazei, founder of City Year, youth service organization.

Sullivan predicted the race will be between Coakley and Brown. “Martha Coakley has done a great job as attorney general, and I have a great deal of admiration and respect for her,” adding,  “Scott Brown should do extremely well. He’s a very credible candidate and when voters get to know him, they will warm up to him.”

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

President Obama tapped a former state senator, a state lawmaker and a federal prosecutor for U.S. Attorney posts in Georgia and Massachusetts today.

They are:

-Michael Moore (Middle District of Georgia): The former Georgia state senator and lawyer in Houston County, Ga., would replace Frank Maxwell Wood, who resigned in July. Read our previous report on Moore here.

Ed Tarver (

Ed Tarver (

-Ed Tarver (Southern District of Georgia): The Georgia state senator and partner at Augusta, Ga. law firm Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley would succeed Edmund A. Booth Jr., who resigned earlier this month. Read more about Tarver here.

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

-Carmen M. Ortiz (Massachusetts): The Massachusetts Assistant U.S. Attorney would replace Michael J. Sullivan, who stepped down in April to join a law firm headed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Read our previous report on the nominee here.

Obama has now made 21 U.S. Attorney nominations. The Senate has confirmed 11 U.S. Attorneys. The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to consider the 10 remaining nominees.

Friday, August 28th, 2009
Edward Kennedy (Gov)

Edward Kennedy (Gov)

As Massachusetts lawmakers mourn the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) they also are preparing for a battle about his replacement. Namely, how that person will be selected and who that person will be. The how is the more pressing matter right now, according to state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R).

Current state law calls for a special election in the event of a Senate vacancy, but some Democrats are pushing for the law to be changed to allow Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to appoint the next senator. Bay State residents “don’t want to see election laws changed to benefit one person or party … it erodes people’s confidence,” according to Tisei.

The state Republican Party also hopes the current law stays in place, as Patrick would almost certainly appoint a Democrat. “I think it’s wrong for Democrats to change the law for purely self-serving purposes,” state Republican Party communications director Tarah Donoghue said. She added that Patrick has a “long history of making poor decisions in political patronage” in making his appointments.

In the event the law doesn’t change, a special election would be held. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin on Thursday presented state lawmakers with a proposed election calendar, The Boston Globe reported. The calendar was drafted after Galvin met with state House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D), state Senate President Therese Murray (D), and top Patrick aides. Under his proposed scheduled, the special election would take place either Jan. 19, with a Dec. 8 primary, or Jan. 26, with a Dec. 15 primary.

According to Galvin, Patrick is legally required to choose one of the two proposed special election dates and then notify local officials by early next week. Under state law, the governor must set the special election process in motion “immediately’’ upon a Senate vacancy, The Globe reported.

Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

Among the names mentioned as possible candidates is former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan. Sullivan has declined to comment on the possibility of running for the seat, although he did release a statement regarding Kennedy’s passing.

While  the state GOP believes it is “too early” to endorse a candidate, according to Donoghue, the state House has scheduled a caucus for Monday to discuss possible candidates, according to state House Assistant Minority Leader George Peterson (R). If former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey decides to run, she “would be very formidable,” as she would be able to self-finance her campaign, according to Tisei.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

The Boston Globe today mentioned former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan (R) as a possible Republican candidate for the state’s open Senate  The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) late Tuesday means the Bay State will see its first competitive Senate since Sen. John Kerry (D) won election in 1984, the Globe reported.

Sullivan served as U.S. Attorney for most of President George W. Bush’s two terms, from September 2001 until April 17.  He is now a partner at The Ashcroft Group, headed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Sullivan was previously the district attorney in Plymouth County, Mass., and he also served in the state house.

However, it’s unlikely a Republican will win the seat in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. If Sullivan ran, it would be more of a favor to the party than as a viable candidate, The Globe indicated. “The party could try to persuade former US Attorney Michael Sullivan to seek the post, but his close association with the Bush administration could burden his candidacy,” The Globe wrote.

As he suffered the final stages of brain cancer, Kennedy last week sent a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and state lawmakers asking for a change in state law to allow the governor to appoint his replacement, The Associated Press reported. Kennedy had sought to have his seat filled quickly so Democrats would have another vote in Congress for health care reform, one of Kennedy’s signature issues.

Sen. Ted Kennedy

Sen. Ted Kennedy

But it doesn’t seem Massachusetts lawmakers are inclined to change the law, which requires the governor to call a special election within 145 to 160 days of the seat becoming vacant, The Associated Press reported. The special election must be held within five months, preceded by a primary five or six weeks before the election.

In addition to Sullivan, others Republicans mentioned as candidates for Kennedy’s seat include state Sen. Scott Brown, businessman Jeff Beatty, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and Chris Egan, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Cooperation and Development, The Associated Press reported.

Possible Democratic candidates include Kennedy’s widow Victoria, Kennedy’s nephew former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, former Rep. Martin Meehan, Reps. Stephen Lynch and Michael Capuano and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, The Globe reported. Reps. Edward Markey, James McGovern and William Delahunt also have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan urged members of the House Judiciary crime, terrorism and homeland security subcommittee this morning to retain mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes.

Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

Michael J. Sullivan (Ashcroft Sullivan)

The panel is considering four bills that seek to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes including crack cocaine offenses and law enforcement officials who use their guns in a crime while on duty.

The bills under consideration are:

-H.R. 834: Ramos and Compean Justice Act of 2009

-H.R. 2934: Common Sense in Sentencing Act of 2009

-H.R. 1466: Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2009

-H.R. 1459: Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009

Sullivan said that the risk of a long mandatory sentence entices drug offenders to cooperate during investigations.

“Without the mandatory minimum, a lot of the regional and national drug investigations would be stalled,” said Sullivan, a partner at Boston law firm Ashcroft Sullivan, which was founded by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, said at the hearing today that prosecutors in white collar cases and other complex cases are still able to get cooperation without imposing mandatory minimum sentences.

“There are ways to bring conviction without mandatory minimum sentences,” said Stewart, the wife of Office of Legislative Affairs head Ron Weich. The Assistant Attorney General has said he will recuse himself from all matters involving mandatory sentencing policies because of his wife’s advocacy work.

Subcommittee Democrats said mandatory sentencing laws unfairly target blacks and do not fit the crime.

The panel held a hearing in May about the legislation that will revise the 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine penalties put in place by Congress in the 1980s. The decades old law gives the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the sale of five grams of crack cocaine as it does for the sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has stood in support  of Congress’s efforts to eliminate the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing.

“We know the mandatory minimum sentences do not work,” said subcommittee Chair Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.)

Panel Republicans said some of the laws could be tweaked, but mandatory minimum sentences should not be eliminated completely.

“When the thermostat is swung from one extreme temperature to another, people get sick,” said subcommittee Ranking Member Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

Sullivan agreed with the Republicans. He said there are very few examples of mandatory minimum sentences that were unwarranted.

“The vast majority received sentences that are appropriate under the current sentencing scheme,” Sullivan said.

The panelists at the hearing also discussed the Ramos and Compean Justice Act, which would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for law enforcement officials who use their guns in a crime while on duty.

The bill is named for former Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who shot a fleeing Mexican drug smuggler in the buttocks and tried to cover the incident up. Former Bush aide Johnny Sutton, the former U.S. Attorney in San Antonio, led the 2005 prosecution that outraged conservative commentators and even many Democrats, most prominently Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

Ramos was sentenced to 11 years. Compean received a 12 year sentence. They received the sentences because of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), sponsor of the Ramos and Compean Justice Act, successfully lobbied President Bush to commute their sentences in January, which set them free.

National Border Patrol Council President T. J. Bonner, whose organization represents border law enforcement officials, said at the hearing that mandatory minimum sentencing laws affect the morale of agents trying to do their job.

“This is a problem that needs to be addressed,” Bonner said.

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Democratic Massachusetts Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry recommended that President Obama nominate Carmen M. Ortiz to be the next Massachusetts U.S. Attorney, the senators said in a statement released yesterday.

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)

Carmen Ortiz (Adelphi Univ.)



Ortiz, who has spent a dozen years in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office, would be the first Hispanic and woman U.S. Attorney for the state. She would succeed Michael J. Sullivan, who stepped down last month.

“It’s a tremendous challenge, but I think one that I’m prepared to take and I’m prepared to meet,” Ortiz told The Boston Globe. “I feel very grateful, and I’m humbled by the senators’ confidence in me.”

A committee went through more than a dozen candidates for the post, but the senators said Ortiz was a “standout throughout this process.”

” We believe that her prosecutorial experience, commitment to public service, and insight into criminal justice issues will make her an exceptional United States Attorney,” the senators said in the statement. “She has lived the American dream, worked hard for every accomplishment she’s achieved, and will ensure that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts is a leader in our community and around the country.”

Ortiz is not free from controversy, however. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit had a man resentenced for defrauding 38,000 people in a telemarketing scheme because Ortiz did not follow through on her promise to propose a lighter sentence, The Globe reported.

The senators’ recommendation also comes as a bit of a surprise, with better known lawyers Michael B. Keating and Martin F. Murphy, both from the Foley Hoag law firm, among the finalists for the position, The Globe said.