Fed prosecutor bring laser-like focus to national security, terrorism cases

October 9, 2012

As a federal prosecutor dealing with terrorism, national security and international crime investigations, Daniel Grooms is a man in constant motion.

Overseeing 10 to 15 active criminal cases at any given time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Va., Grooms one day might be conferring with officials from the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to discuss the direction of a sensitive investigation, and the next day devising legal strategies or consulting with the State Department and foreign law enforcement authorities.

“It is a non-stop job that keeps you on your toes all the time,” said Grooms. “In the past two years in my unit, we have had cases on six continents. These have involved international terrorists, drug kingpins, arms traffickers and secret agents of foreign governments.”

“I have been on four different continents in the past year,” he added. “It is a daily challenge just to keep everything straight and moving in the right direction.”

Grooms certainly has been busy.


(U.S. Department of Justice)

As a result of efforts by Grooms and his law enforcement colleagues, for example, a Leesburg, Va. man was sentenced in July to 18 months in prison for providing information to Syrian intelligence agencies in order to silence, intimidate and potentially harm individuals in the United States protesting the repressive Syrian regime.

In another case handled by Grooms’ unit this year, a 29-year old Alexandria resident pleaded guilty in connection with a plan to carry out a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. Capitol building. And in another recent case, a Fairfax, Va. man was sentenced to 24 months in prison for conspiracy and tax violations for secretly taking millions of dollars from the Pakistan government to fund lobbying efforts in America related to Kashmir.

Grooms said he knew he wanted to be a federal prosecutor after his first summer at Harvard Law School when he had an internship in the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta. While at Harvard, Grooms also received a Heyman Fellowship that provided him with financial assistance in return for a commitment to spend at least three years in the federal government. The late Samuel J. Heyman, the benefactor of the fellowship program, is the founder of the Partnership for Public Service.

“I don’t think I’ve looked back since,” said Grooms.

After law school, Grooms became a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and later worked on narcotics and organized crime cases at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandra. A number of his early cases involved efforts targeting the illicit methamphetamine trade and tracking the international flow of the precursor chemicals used to make the drug.

Ava Cooper-Davis, formerly special agent in charge of the DEA’s Washington field division, said Grooms always worked cooperatively with her agents, finding ways to explore all viable options and providing the support and resources they needed.

“He is so hard working and full of energy and charged up to get going on cases,” said Cooper-Davis. “He is an aggressive prosecutor, but he is also a professional, respected and very fair.”

Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said Grooms “brings tremendous passion, urgency and enthusiasm to his job that rubs off on everyone around him.”

McBride said Grooms’ job is extremely important, often complicated and routinely entails many sensitive matters. He said Grooms has the astute legal, personal and diplomatic skills enabling him to navigate difficult situations and bring people together.

Grooms said he finds his work “intellectually stimulating” and fulfilling because it is centered on “pursuing justice.” He said it is most rewarding to “find way to build cases that result in unassailable prosecutions.”

“At the end of each day, I can go home and say I believe what I was advocating,” said Grooms. “It may sound like a cliché, but the great thing about this job is the opportunity to go to work every day knowing your sole duty is to try to do the right thing.”

This article was jointly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service, a group seeking to enhance the performance of the federal government, and washingtonpost.com. Go to www.servicetoamericamedals.org/nominate to nominate a federal employee for a Service to America Medal and http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/fedpage/players/ to read about other federal workers who are making a difference.

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