Posts Tagged ‘Middle District of Georgia’
Monday, January 24th, 2011

Although Michael Moore, the new U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, knows that much of his job is administrative, he doesn’t plan on staying out of the courtroom, the Macon Telegraph reported.

Moore was sworn in Oct. 6, 2010, after his September 2009 nomination languished in the Senate for about a year before he was confirmed.

Michael Moore (Andrew Ramonas/Main Justice)

Main Justice reported on possible reasons for the delay on the Senate vote, including his peripheral involvement in a fraud cause and a delay in paperwork being returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Since taking over the office four months ago, Moore has met with staff members  in the U.S. Attorney’s office and at the U.S. District Court, the newspaper reported. He also has established goals for the office, including an increased emphasis on prosecuting cases that could result in forfeitures, child sex cases, health care fraud, public corruption and gun and drug cases.

Moore also told the newspaper that he’s “committed to making an immediate local impact,” and is reaching out to rural law enforcement and prosecutors to let them know of their allies in the U.S. Attorney’s office.

As for being out of the courtroom since taking over his new post, Moore said, “I’m going through a little bit of withdrawal.” He added that he hopes to try some cases and stay “plugged in,” the Macon Telegraph reported.

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Thursday, December 9th, 2010

The Justice Department on Wednesday honored a former interim U.S. Attorney in Detroit for boosting morale and productivity in the Middle District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office, shedding light on the prosecutor’s discreet stint at a troubled office.

Terrence G. Berg (DOJ)

Director H. Marshall Jarrett of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys presented former interim U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg of the Eastern District of Michigan with a Superior Performance in a Managerial or Supervisory Role award during the 27th annual EOUSA Director’s Awards Ceremony. Berg, who has worked at the DOJ for more than 15 years, spent six months as the acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Georgia under then-acting U.S. Attorney G.F. “Pete” Peterman before returning to Detroit in October as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Berg appeared to have been sent down South to fix issues with the office’s management.

The DOJ kept Berg’s time as the No. 2 official in the Middle District of Georgia quiet. His name was not in the online staff directory for the U.S. Attorney’s office and does not appear in court documents or websites associated with the Macon-based office. Main Justice was the first to report that Berg worked in the Middle District of Georgia.

“While serving [as acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney] Mr. Berg provided both outstanding leadership and management skills under challenging conditions,” a program from the awards ceremony says. “Mr. Berg was instrumental in developing and implementing a strategic plan for the improvement of the management and structure of the office.”

Berg increased the office’s intake of cases, started a mentoring program for less-experienced prosecutors, assisted with the creation of a “Back to Basics” program to train every Criminal Division Assistant U.S. Attorney in the office and helped mend the office’s relationships with judges and other officials, according to the program. He also put together the first office-wide retreat in a decade and launched “a program to improve morale and promote a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among the staff,” the program says.

Peterman, now the First Assistant U.S. Attorney, said in October that Berg came to the Macon-based U.S. Attorney’s office because they were “shorthanded in our management staff.” But the former acting U.S. Attorney, a 20-year veteran of the office, declined further comment on the matter.

He and a spokeswoman for the Middle District of Georgia didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday about Berg’s work in the office. A DOJ spokeswoman in D.C. didn’t have an immediate comment.

The Middle District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s office has faced criticism in the last few years for its work on a few major cases.

  • In August 2008, lawyers representing defendants in a public corruption case accused Middle District of Georgia prosecutors of “outrageous government misconduct” for allegedly devising a scheme to create criminal charges against another defendant in the case, the Daily Report reported.
  • In January 2009, lawyers for a Defense Department contractor alleged prosecutors from the office made false assertions and disingenuous statements in a case in which the government alleged the company knowingly sold faulty non-lethal grenades that malfunctioned, The Telegraph in Macon reported.
  • In December 2009, a federal judge in Georgia blasted the office for the “sweetheart plea deals” it made with drug dealers in its “relentless” efforts to pursue a defense lawyer who was acquitted of attempted bribery, drug conspiracy and money laundering charges, the Fulton County Daily Report reported.

The office is currently led by U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore, who was sworn in Oct. 6. President Barack Obama nominated Moore in September 2009 to lead the office, but his nomination languished in the Senate for about a year.


Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

A former interim U.S. Attorney in Detroit will leave the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Macon, Ga., this week after serving there as the No. 2 official for several months, the former leader of the office told Main Justice Wednesday.

Terrence G. Berg (USDOJ)

Former acting U.S. Attorney G.F. “Pete” Peterman of the Middle District of Georgia said Terrence Berg, a veteran prosecutor from the Eastern District of Michigan, was the First Assistant U.S. Attorney from May until this month. Peterman, who was acting U.S. Attorney from summer 2009 until this month, said the office is celebrating the prosecutor’s last day Wednesday.

Berg will return to Detroit as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the complex crimes unit next week, Eastern District of Michigan First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Gorland told Main Justice. Berg served his first stint in the Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney’s office from 1989 to 1999. He later returned to the office in 2003, becoming the First Assistant U.S. Attorney there in 2005. He served as the interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2008 until January 2010.

The Justice Department kept Berg’s stint in Macon quiet. His name was not in the online staff directory for the U.S. Attorney’s office and does not appear in court documents or websites associated with the Middle District of Georgia.

Peterman said Berg came to the Macon U.S. Attorney’s office because they were “shorthanded in our management staff.” He declined further comment on the matter. A DOJ spokeswoman in Washington also declined comment.

The Middle District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s office has come under fire over the last few years for its work on several major cases.

  • In August 2008, lawyers representing defendants in a public corruption case accused Middle District of Georgia prosecutors of “outrageous government misconduct” for allegedly devising a scheme to create criminal charges against another defendant in the case, the Daily Report reported.
  • In January 2009, lawyers for a Defense Department contractor alleged prosecutors from the office made false assertions and disingenuous statements in a case in which the government alleged the company knowingly sold faulty non-lethal grenades that malfunctioned, The Telegraph in Macon reported.
  • In December 2009, a federal judge in Georgia blasted the office for the “sweetheart plea deals” it made with drug dealers in its “relentless” efforts to pursue a defense lawyer who was acquitted of attempted bribery, drug conspiracy and money laundering charges, the Fulton County Daily Report reported.

Peterman, who is now listed as the Middle District of Georgia First Assistant U.S. Attorney, started at the office in 1990. He became the office’s Criminal Division Chief in 1996 and First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the first time in 1998. He also served two previous stints as acting U.S. Attorney in 2000 and 2001.

The office is now led by U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore, who was sworn in Oct. 6. President Barack Obama nominated Moore in September 2009 to lead the office, but his nomination languished in the Senate for about a year.

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The Senate confirmed six U.S. Attorneys by voice vote late Wednesday night.

They are:

Joe Hogsett (Bingham McHale LLP)

-- Joseph Hogsett (Southern District of Indiana): President Barack Obama nominated the partner at the law firm of Bingham McHale LLP in Indianapolis and former chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party on July 14 to succeed Susan W. Brooks, who stepped down as U.S. Attorney in 2007. Read more about him here.

Michael J. Moore (Gov)

- Michael J. Moore (Middle District of Georgia): Obama tapped the lawyer in Warner Robins, Ga., on Sept. 17, 2009, to succeed Frank Maxwell Wood, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in July 2009. Read more about him here and here.

- Robert E. O’Neill (Middle District of Florida): The Assistant U.S. Attorney in Middle District of Florida will replace A. Brian Albritton, who became U.S. Attorney in October 2008. Obama tapped him on June 9. Read more about O’Neill here.

Bill Killian (WCKlaw)

- William C. Killian (Eastern District of Tennessee): The sole practitioner at William C. Killian, Attorney at Law PC will succeed James R. Dedrick, who stepped down as U.S. Attorney last summer. Obama nominated him on May 20. Read more about Killian here.

- Mark Green (Eastern District of Oklahoma): The sole practitioner and alternate city judge for Muskogee, Okla., will replace Sheldon J. Sperling, who has been U.S. Attorney since 2001. Obama nominated Green on July 14. Read more about him here.

Michael C. Ormsby (K&L Gates LLP)

- Michael C. Ormsby (Eastern District of Washington): The partner at the law firm of K&L Gates LLP in Spokane, Wash., will replace James A. McDevitt, who became U.S. Attorney in 2001. Obama nominated Ormsby on March 2. Read more about him here.

The Senate has now confirmed 72 U.S. Attorneys. There are five U.S. Attorney nominees, who are still waiting for consideration by the full Senate. Among those would-be U.S. Attorneys is William Conner Eldridge Jr., the Western District of Arkansas nominee, who was tapped Wednesday.

There are 93 U.S. Attorney posts located throughout the nation.

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two U.S. Attorney nominees by voice vote at its meeting Thursday.

They are:

Joe Hogsett (Bingham McHale LLP)

-Joseph Hogsett (Southern District of Indiana): President Barack Obama nominated the partner at the law firm of Bingham McHale LLP in Indianapolis and former chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party on July 14 to succeed Susan W. Brooks, who stepped down as U.S. Attorney in 2007. Read more about him here.

Michael J. Moore (Gov)

-Michael J. Moore (Middle District of Georgia): Obama tapped the lawyer in Warner Robins, Ga., on Sept. 17, 2009, to succeed Frank Maxwell Wood, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in July 2009. Read more about him here and here.

The committee has now approved 68 of Obama’s U.S. Attorney nominees, 66 of whom have won Senate confirmation. The panel has yet to schedule votes for another six would-be U.S. Attorneys. There are 93 U.S. Attorney posts.

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on two U.S. Attorney nominees at its meeting next Thursday.

They are:

Joe Hogsett (Bingham McHale LLP)

-Joseph Hogsett (Southern District of Indiana): President Barack Obama nominated the partner at the law firm of Bingham McHale LLP in Indianapolis and former chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party on July 14 to succeed Susan W. Brooks, who stepped down as U.S. Attorney in 2007. Read more about him here.

Michael J. Moore (Gov)

-Michael J. Moore (Middle District of Georgia): Obama tapped the lawyer in Warner Robins, Ga., on Sept. 17, 2009, to succeed Frank Maxwell Wood, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in July 2009. Read more about him here and here.

The panel has yet to schedule votes for another six would-be U.S. Attorneys. The committee has approved 66 of Obama’s U.S. Attorney nominees, all of whom have won Senate confirmation. There are 93 U.S. Attorney posts.

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

This post has been corrected.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Middle District of Georgia has taken an unusual step, recusing itself from a seemingly routine fraud case. The wrinkle: one of the victims of the apparent fraud is the Macon-based district’s U.S. Attorney nominee.

Michael J. Moore

Michael J. Moore, a Perry, Ga., defense attorney and Democratic donor, was nominated to be the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia on Sept. 17, 2009 — nearly 300 days ago. He is the longest outstanding U.S. Attorney nominee in the Obama administration. (The second longest outstanding nominee is Thomas Gray Walker for the Eastern District of North Carolina at a little more than 200 days.)

It’s unclear what has delayed Moore’s nomination. It took nine months from the date of his nomination for the Senate Judiciary Committee to receive Moore’s background questionnaire, a necessary bit of paperwork before the panel can consider a nomination. The panel received Moore’s questionnaire on June 9; most U.S. Attorney nominees file the materials a few weeks after nomination.

But some local observers have pointed to his peripheral involvement in the wire fraud case involving Logo Pro, Inc., a promotional items company based in Centerville, Ga., as a possible source of the delay.

According to court documents filed in the case, Logo Pro, Inc., owner and CEO J. Todd Smith told investors that he had secured a government contract to provide clothing and accessories to the federal government and asked investors for money up front to facilitate the performance of the contract.

But Smith never had a government contract. Instead, he used the money for personal and business expenses and to pay off other investors.  According to court documents, about 30 individuals lost about $2 million in Smith’s scheme, which lasted from February 2008 through about September 2009. Smith’s attorney Donald F. Samuel confirmed that Moore was one of the victims defrauded in the scheme.

Smith pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on April 27. He is slated to be sentenced in August, Samuel said. Smith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Middle District of Georgia recused itself from the case because of the connection to Moore, Samuel said. The prosecution was handed to the Northern District of Georgia and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain, who did not respond to a request for comment.

Moore was recommended to be the U.S. Attorney by the House Democratic delegation from Georgia. Traditionally, a state’s senators make U.S. Attorney recommendations to the president. But when the senators are from different parties — as is the case in Georgia with Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson — the job of making recommendations falls to the House delegation.

Moore has given about $30,000 to Democratic candidates and causes on the federal and state level since 2002 — including $3,300 in donations to President Obama — according to a review of state and federal campaign donations.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Michael J. Moore

Michael J. Moore (Mercer University, Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law) is nominated to be the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. He would replace Frank Maxwell Wood who was U.S. Attorney from 2001 until July 31, 2009. After resigning, Wood announced his candidacy for Georgia attorney general. The district’s current acting U.S. Attorney is G.F. Pete Peterman III.

His vitals:

  • Born in Atlanta in 1968.
  • Has owned his private law practice in Warner Robins, Ga., since 2005.
  • Has been an administrative law judge for the city of Warner Robins since 2004.
  • Was a state senator in Georgia from 2002 to 2003. In 2001, he ran in a special election, which he won in a run-off election. He lost re-election the following year.
  • Served as chief financial officer and secretary of his wife’s at-home physical therapy practice, Kids Need Moore, Inc., from 2000 until earlier this year.
  • Was a partner at Clarke, Moore and Hall, P.C. in Warner Robins, Ga., from 1997 to 2005.
  • Worked as the chief/assistant district attorney in the Houston Judicial Circuit in Perry, Ga., from 1993 to 1997. He previously clerked in the office from 1992 to 1993. In 2004, he unsuccessfully ran for Houston County district attorney.
  • Clerked for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Middle District of Georgia in Macon, Ga., from 1991 to 1992.
  • Worked as an insurance fraud/claims investigator at Equifax Services, Inc. in Atlanta from 1989 to 1990.
  • Has tried between 100 and 120 cases to verdict or judgment. Approximately one-third of the cases were handled with co-counsel while he served as sole counsel in the remainder.

Click here for his full Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.

On his Office of Government Ethics financial disclosure Moore earned $448,500 as an executor fee from the Beatrice Buice Estate. He also reports liabilities of between $270,005 and $630,000 for two credit lines and three loans for business, investment and partnership.

UPDATE: On his Senate Judiciary financial disclosure Moore reported assets valued at $2.3 million, mostly from real estate and assets “due from others,” and $1.2 million in liabilities for a net worth of $1.1 million.

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Frank Maxwell Wood (DOJ)

A former Republican U.S. Attorney seeking to become Georgia’s attorney general said Thursday if he held the post now he would have joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care law, The Athens Banner-Herald reported.

During a Thursday campaign debate at the University of Georgia, Frank Maxwell Wood, who headed the Middle District of Georgia U.S. Attorneys office from 2001 until 2009, and former Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens both said they would have joined in the lawsuit if they were in office. Both are seeking the Republican nomination to run for attorney general in November.

After President Barack Obama signed the health care legislation into law late last month, the attorneys general of 13 states filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law. The suit, spearheaded by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R), was filed in the Northern District of Florida. Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R) has filed a separate federal suit challenging the law.

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D), a candidate for governor this year, has come under fire from Republicans for refusing Gov. Sonny Perdue’s (R) request that Georgia join the lawsuit. Baker has said the case made by the attorneys general is weak and that joining the lawsuit would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. The governor has vowed to go around Baker and hire outside counsel to challenge the law, according to the newspaper.

During the debate Thursday, Wood said if elected he would create a division within his office to challenge the new health care law.

“This is a huge, huge step toward socialism that we need to push back on,” Wood said, according to the newspaper. “I think this is a battle we’ll be fighting for years.”

Olens added that an individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. “This is an unprecedented federal directive,” he said. “You’re taxing someone for doing nothing.”

Although both candidates disagreed with Baker’s decision not to join the suit, they said they supported his right to do so.

“Ultimately, the attorney general makes his or her own decisions on this type of litigation,” Wood said.

However, both Wood and Olens were critical of Baker’s tenure as attorney general. The two candidates will go head-to-head in the July 20 primary and the winner will face the winner of the Democratic primary — state Rep. Rob Teilhet or former Dougherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges.

Wood, a Bush appointee, headed U.S. Attorney’s office until July 31, 2009. G.F. “Pete” Peterman III became the acting U.S. Attorney for the district after Wood stepped down. Obama has nominated Michael Moore to become the district’s next U.S. Attorney. Moore’s confirmation process appears to have stalled; his nomination has been pending for nearly 200 days — longer than any other Obama U.S. Attorney nominee.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The Senate voted today to confirm a former U.S. Attorney to sit on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Beverly Martin, who served as a U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia from 1998 to 2000, will hear cases from Georgia, Alabama and Florida on the circuit court of appeals. She previously served as a U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta.

The Senate vote was 97-0. Sens. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) did not vote.

Martin is the fourth circuit court appointee by President Obama to win Senate confirmation. Five other nominees have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and await Senate floor action.