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Feds in Va. to crack down on financial fraud and public corruption

The U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, known for prosecuting high-profile terrorism and national security cases, has a new target: financial fraud and public corruption.

The office, which handles cases from throughout Northern Virginia, is expanding its ability to fight financial crime amid the billions in federal economic recovery spending.

With programs such as President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package and the $700 billion financial bailout passed during the Bush administration, the potential for fraud is high, prosecutors said.

“No one can truly feel secure if they don’t have faith in our economy and our government,” said Neil H. MacBride, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria. “Financial crimes have depleted people’s savings and taken away their homes, and holding those criminals accountable is critical to any economic recovery.’’

To spearhead the crackdown, MacBride’s office is hiring three new prosecutors for its fraud unit and recently named Charles Connolly to be the unit’s deputy chief, a new position. Connolly has been an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia since 2002, and is also a former acting deputy chief of staff to the U.S. attorney general.

With the expansion of federal government efforts, the office is also targeting potential corruption by government officials. To lead that effort, MacBride recently named Mark Lytle to be public integrity coordinator, another new position. Lytle, an assistant U.S. attorney in Alexandria since 2004, is best known for his successful prosecution of former U.S. Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) on multiple corruption counts — one of an increasing number of corruption cases the U.S. attorney’s office has brought in recent years.

The focus on corruption and fraud comes after the office did not get the opportunity to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed — the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — on trial in Alexandria or elsewhere in the Eastern District, which also includes Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News.

-- Jerry Markon

By Washington Post editors  |  February 10, 2010; 10:33 AM ET
Categories:  Alexandria , From the Courthouse , Jerry Markon , Politics , The Region , Virginia  | Tags: Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Connolly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lytle, Charles Connolly, Eastern District of Virginia, Mark Lytle, Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride, U.S.Rep. William Jefferson, William J. Jefferson, William Jefferson, financial fraud, public corruption  
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What about Maryland and the deep south states, especially Louisiana and Mississippi? Public corruption there is aboveboard and rampant. How many Katrina dollars have ended up in the pockets of politicians and those politically connected? Virginia is small potatoes.

Posted by: mortified469 | February 10, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

CONGRATULATIONS to Jerry Markon for persistence on this issue!

There was an article in the Washington Post on this topic in 2008 and the comments to that article mention a predecessor task force, as well:

Federal Group To Investigate N.Va. Corruption

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 29, 2008

We supplied the 2008 federal group with an official document and received a response asking for more details.

We supplied another official letter and the FBI, although it is an investigative entity called the Federal Bureau of Investigation, either failed to see the evidence of public corruption and the connection to Northern Virginia or considered the perpetrators TOO BIG TO PROSECUTE.

That did not surprise a friend, a Tuskegee Airman and former speech writer for the Pentagon who considered the FBI as always having been HIGHLY POLITICAL.

Needless to say, nothing has changed to rectify the conditions we mentioned to the FBI and the large scale public corruption continues to this day … former U.S. Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) was a small fish who was NOT TOO BIG TO PROSECUTE.

Jefferson is now doing time as he should, when will others follow suit?

Posted by: properbostonian1 | February 11, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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