Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Yes, new U.S. Attorney Marcos Daniel Jim�nez looks a lot like actor Alec Baldwin. Jim�nez has heard it a million times. Even once from a Hollywood casting agent who offered him a job as a stand-in for Baldwin’s younger and thinner brother Billy. “I said, ‘Sure, that’d be fun for a couple of weeks.’ But she said, ‘No. No. No. You’d have to leave your job. It’s a six-month thing.’ I said, ‘I don’t think my law firm would let me,’” Jim�nez says. “That was my weirdest Baldwin moment. I’ve had a lot of them.” More weird moments of a different type surely are on the way. At age 42, the immigrant son of Cuban parents is in his seventh week as the top federal law enforcement official in often strange, wild and lawless South Florida. In his first on-the-job interview, Jim�nez sat down with Miami Daily Business Review to talk about the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami and how he intends to direct its $45 million in annual resources. In his view, the unequivocal top priority in South Florida since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is anti-terrorism enforcement. He expressed confidence that he could focus on that problem without giving short shrift to the important but more routine fare of his office — white-collar crime, gang and violent crime, guns and narcotics. “Fifteen of the 19 hijackers lived here, you don’t have to say much more than that,” Jim�nez says. “Today, Miami’s the No. 1 airport in many ways. We’re the No. 1 cruise port in the nation. We’ve got two nuclear plants in this district. We have important buildings. We have a lot of things that we have to be careful that we are doing everything we can to protect.” Certainly, the Sept. 13 detention of three men on I-75 after reports that they were traveling to Miami to launch a terrorist attack provides support for the focus on anti-terrorism efforts. But whether Jim�nez can keep his eye on that ball and still do all the other things federal prosecutors in South Florida are expected to do remains to be seen. Jim�nez, who lives in Coral Gables, Fla., with his wife and three daughters, ages 12, 11 and 9, offers only a soft-focus look at his prosecutorial priorities. He cites no new initiatives, no niche where he’ll carve his legacy. Rather, the crime-fighting strategy he outlines amounts to continuing the generally aggressive policies of his predecessor, Guy Lewis. With all of Jim�nez’s priorities, what gets lost in the shuffle? “Nothing,” he says firmly. “I don’t think you have to de-emphasize anything to emphasize one thing. Other veteran prosecutors take different views of that assessment. Donna Bucella, former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida and ex-director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, says that Jim�nez not only has “a tremendous amount of prosecutorial resources, but also the investigative resources of federal agencies, and Miami is a hub for all of them. The priorities are going to be as Washington dictates,” adds Bucella, now a partner at Steel Hector & Davis in Miami. But Kendall Coffey, who served as U.S. Attorney in Miami from 1993-1996, says the Bush administration’s mandate to prioritize anti-terrorism and corporate fraud enforcement may require Jim�nez to raise the thresholds for pursuing certain types of cases, such as guns, counterfeiting, and narcotics in particular. “You can’t marshal a concentrated effort against terrorism and white-collar crime and maintain a broad range of initiatives without looking at thresholds,” says Coffey, a partner at Coffey & Wright in Miami. “Sometimes you literally have to look at the weight of the cocaine at issue, and decide which should be prosecuted federally and which by the state attorney’s office.” BUSIEST DISTRICT IN NATION Today, there about 225 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 205 support personnel in a district that sprawls from Key West north to Sebastian and west to Sebring. Another 40 “special” AUSAs employed by a variety of federal agencies, including the SEC and the IRS, report to Jim�nez. It is one of the three or four biggest federal prosecutor’s offices in the nation, and the district is among the busiest. Last year, more federal trials were held in South Florida than anywhere else. Jim�nez, who served three years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Miami a decade ago, comes to office after working as a partner at White & Case in Miami, where he focused on complex commercial litigation, white-collar defense and internal corporate investigations. President Bush picked Jim�nez for the job following the attorney’s legal work on behalf of the Bush-Cheney campaign during Florida’s presidential recount battle in 2000. Among Jim�nez’s first official acts was appointing four key aides from among his existing staff, including the chiefs of the criminal division, Thomas Mulvihill, and the economic crime division, Alicia O. Valle; his special counsel, Patrick White; and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Stamm. Stamm is a 15-year veteran of the Miami federal prosecutor’s office who successfully co-prosecuted the huge Premium Sales investment scam that sent several people to prison in the mid-1990s. Unlike some of his predecessors who itched to put their imprint on the office, however, Jim�nez hasn’t felt compelled to quickly install new leadership in other important prosecution units such as narcotics and public corruption. “Supervisors are really there to make sure the lawyers beneath them look good,” says Jim�nez, a former deputy chief of major crimes who prosecuted narcotics and fraud cases as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1989-1992. “They shouldn’t worry about themselves but about their people. If their people do well, they’ll do well.” On the anti-terrorism front, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami participates in a number of state and local terrorism task forces, and since last winter, has had a 10-attorney National Security Unit. But while South Florida isn’t likely to take center stage in the actual prosecution of cases against terrorists, Jim�nez says he expects his office’s role won’t be confined to investigation. “Unfortunately, we seem to be on the cutting edge of a lot of criminal activity and that’s really what makes this office so important,” Jim�nez says. “We’re foreseeing actual cases being made here.” TERRORISM, MONEY LAUNDERING Prosecuting money launderers likely will be a prime way for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami to go after terrorists. No longer considered a crime only of drug kingpins and con men, money laundering is the focus of a new government strategy that seeks to “apply the lessons we have learned from the federal government’s efforts … to attack the scourge of terrorism,” according to a summary of the strategy made public in July. Miami leads the nation in the number of federal money laundering defendants. And new investigative tools, including those provided by last year’s USA Patriot Act, likely will keep Miami at the “leading edge” of the financial war front, according to Jim�nez. “South Florida is one of the money laundering capitals of the world and our office has a national mandate to not only continue our efforts, but also to strengthen our efforts in this area,” Jim�nez wrote in a recent memo to staff. “Working with [the U.S. Treasury Department], we will explore how to obtain and deploy additional resources, to include a High Intensity Financial Crimes Area designation (HIFCA).” Such designations are intended to concentrate federal, state and local law enforcement efforts where the need for enforcement is greatest. In areas where HIFCAs already exist, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, they work closely with other specialized enforcement efforts, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. The next priority mentioned by Jim�nez is a hybrid, “public corruption and civil rights” — a category that describes the pending trial of 11 Miami police officers on federal charges of participating in a conspiracy to plant guns and lie to justify four shootings, including the 1996 machine-gunning of 73-year-old Richard O. Brown in his bedroom during a drug raid. “I view [corruption and civil rights] as interrelated,” Jim�nez says. “Many of our important civil rights cases are cases where there are potential instances of the use of excessive force by police offices, and by individuals in positions of authority. This office over the years has had many important public corruption prosecutions and the community here is very concerned about that. So we’re going to focus on that, make that a priority.” What about old-fashioned cases of bribery or thievery involving government officials? “Certainly,” he says, without elaborating. WHITE-COLLAR WILL REMAIN KEY Jim�nez, a deacon in his Coral Gables Baptist church, is a bit more expansive talking about prosecuting corporate fraud. At White & Case he concentrated on commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense work. Among the most significant, Jim�nez told the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation process, involved his extensive criminal and civil defense work on behalf of Simone Romani in federal court in Orlando. Romani, an Italian, was arrested in 1997 by Customs Service agents in a sting operation that at the time was the largest U.S. intellectual property action against bootleg music recordings. The Recording Industry Association of America and some artists, including the Grateful Dead, assisted the government. After substantial pretrial litigation, Romani ultimately pleaded guilty. President Bush recently announced, in the wake of notorious allegations of fraud involving companies like Enron and WorldCom, that prosecuting corporate fraud is a national priority. Traditionally, Jim�nez says, the U.S. Attorney’s economic crimes section in Miami has had a twin focus — general white-collar fraud and health care fraud. Indeed, Medicare and Medicaid fraud is considered so pervasive in South Florida that the office boasts a stand-alone prosecution facility in Miramar where federal agents and prosecutors work together. “Our health care fraud losses on a yearly basis on this district alone are several billion dollars,” Jim�nez says. Last month, a few days after Jim�nez took office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a new initiative on securities fraud with the indictment of 58 stockbrokers, promoters and corporate officials. The two-year undercover investigation into penny stock fraud and money laundering, code-named “Bermuda Short,” involved the attempted sale to unwitting investors of more than $200 million in overvalued stock. Jim�nez says more stock fraud cases will follow. “We certainly have a serious problem in securities fraud, particularly in the Boca Raton and Palm Beach areas that have been centers of boiler room and penny stock fraud,” Jim�nez says. “Do we have an Enron or a WorldCom type of situation here? Hopefully we don’t, but it’s certainly the type of thing that we’ll be looking at.” Coffey expects Jim�nez to continue the office’s traditional heavy emphasis in the white-collar area, particularly in health care fraud, because federal prosecutors historically are the only ones who have the expertise and resources to pursue such cases. Will Jim�nez’s scrutiny of white-collar financial activities be proactive, targeting fraud before it becomes apparent? “I can’t really comment on anything related to the techniques or methods or the investigations we have in the office, but certainly we would respond to any report of misconduct,” Jim�nez says. Many U.S. Attorneys come out of a prosecutorial background, and then go into white-collar defense work after leaving office. Jim�nez has already done both. Does that lessen his credibility in enforcing the law against the types of people he formerly defended? Not at all, says Marc Nurik, the head of the white-collar group at Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell in Fort Lauderdale. “The fact that he has represented people subject to investigation or prosecution by the government only gives him much wider perspective and makes him a more valuable asset,” says Nurik, a former county prosecutor in New York City. Also high on Jim�nez’s declared priority list are the South Florida perennials, narcotics and violent crime, including both murderous drug gangs and armed career criminals. “We’ll keep hitting those hard,” Jim�nez vows. Then, of course, there are the other day-to-day duties of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Like upholding environmental laws, litigating appeals, providing investigative assistance to foreign governments and prosecuting a variety of civil matters, including asset forfeiture cases. RESOURCES MAY GROW The resources at Jim�nez’s disposal are likely to expand to meet all the new demands. He anticipates as many as 20 new line prosecutors will be needed over the next two years. Budget planning for those positions has not yet begun, but Jim�nez seems to expect he’ll have those needs filled. If and when he gets the new bodies, Jim�nez says he intends to assign most of the new prosecutors to district offices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce. “That’s where the population is continuing to grow the fastest,” he says. There currently are 32 AUSAs in Broward, 22 in Palm Beach and five in Fort Pierce, in St. Lucie County. Other counties under the office’s jurisdiction are Indian River, Highlands, Okeechobee and Martin counties. Jim�nez, whose new job pays him $130,000 a year, looks back nostalgically at his days as a line prosecutor. “That was the best job I ever had. To stand up in court and say, ‘I represent the United States’ is a very special privilege,” says Jim�nez, who hopes to try cases himself occasionally if time permits. “I left a little too early.” Jim�nez says he left the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which then was headed by Bob Martinez, for private practice to make more money and raise a family. During his 10 years at White & Case, he’s built up more than $1 million in personal assets, according to paperwork filed with the Senate. While Jim�nez is a rising star in Florida Republican circles, he has yet to speak with President Bush about his new job, or even to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Until June, the governor employed his younger brother, Frank Jim�nez, as deputy chief of staff. Rather, it was Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham who phoned one evening not long after the Senate voted to confirm Jim�nez as U.S. Attorney. The call was part courtesy and part fence mending. Graham had backed incumbent Guy Lewis early in that appointment process. “He was very nice and very encouraging,” Jim�nez says. “I was extremely grateful for that call. I didn’t get one like that from anyone else.” Former U.S. Attorney Donna Bucella predicts that Jim�nez will leave his mark on the office, just as his predecessors have. “He’s a smart guy,” Bucella says. “He’s going to refocus and tinker with the office like every U.S. Attorney does.” “That’s the beauty of the system. New people come in and make changes and try to refocus resources.” Harris Meyer provided additional reporting for this article.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.