U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced a massive hiring initiative to bring 311 more assistant U.S. attorneys into the Department of Justice, most of whom will focus on prosecuting violent crime, illegal immigration and opioid abuse. Of those new hires, Pennsylvania U.S. attorney offices are set to be bolstered by the addition of seven prosecutors.
In total, the DOJ has opened positions for 190 violent crime prosecutors, 86 civil enforcement prosecutors, and 35 additional immigration prosecutors.
According to the department, many of the newly minted civil enforcement prosecutors will work with the prescription interdiction & litigation task force, which targets opioid distribution.
“Under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice is going on offense against violent crime, illegal immigration, and the opioid crisis—and today we are sending in reinforcements,” Sessions said in a statement. “We have a saying in my office that a new federal prosecutor is ‘the coin of the realm.’ When we can eliminate wasteful spending, one of my first questions to my staff is if we can deploy more prosecutors to where they are needed. I have personally worked to repurpose existing funds to support this critical mission, and as a former federal prosecutor myself, my expectations could not be higher. These exceptional and talented prosecutors are key leaders in our crime fighting partnership. This addition of new assistant U.S. attorney positions represents the largest increase in decades.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is expected to gain two new prosecutors, one for violent crime and one for civil enforcement; the Middle District gets three—one focusing on violent crime, one on civil enforcement, and one on litigation involving illegal immigrants challenging their detention status; and lastly, the Western District will receive two focusing on violent crime.
The three Pennsylvania-based U.S. attorneys, all of whom are President Donald Trump appointees, expressed enthusiasm about the new hires. Philadelphia-headquartered Eastern District U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain, the most recent Trump appointee in Pennsylvania to take the helm of a federal prosecutor’s office, said combating violent crime is a top priority.
“Adding another dedicated prosecutor to this work will help us continue to hold the most dangerous offenders accountable and ultimately make our neighborhoods safer,” McSwain said. “Additionally, our office is known for successfully pursuing affirmative civil enforcement, and we welcome the opportunity to have a new AUSA fill this position and join our team.”
In Harrisburg, U.S. Attorney David J. Freed of the Middle District said in an emailed statement, “We are excited and energized that Attorney General Sessions and his team have recognized that our hard work in these focus areas merits additional resources.”
He added, “We are laser-focused on working with all of our federal, state and local partners in the fight to reduce violent crime. We are taking a strong stand against fraud stemming from the opioid crisis including over-prescribing and treatment scams, consistent with the attorney general’s mandate to reduce opioid-related deaths, and working hard to uphold the integrity of our borders by focusing on recidivist illegal immigrants. We are looking forward to welcoming new members to our team.”
In Pittsburgh, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady of the Western District of Pennsylvania shared similar sentiments in his own statement.
“The top priorities of General Sessions and our office are reducing violent crime and combating the opioid crisis. These two new prosecutors will be critical to this mission,” Brady said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to take dangerous criminals off the streets. These additional resources will be crucial in fulfilling our responsibility to keep the citizens of Western Pennsylvania safe.”