Federal Prosecutors' Assignments Shift, but Rosenstein Remains as Chief

Rod J. Rosenstein has been Maryland's top federal prosecutor since 2005.
Rod J. Rosenstein has been Maryland's top federal prosecutor since 2005. (By Haraz N. Ghanbari -- Associated Press)
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By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 28, 2009

Maryland's U.S. attorney, Rod J. Rosenstein, has lost three of his top prosecutors to high-profile jobs at Justice Department headquarters in Washington.

Jason M. Weinstein, who was the chief of violent crimes for the federal prosecutor's Baltimore office, started this week as a deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division at what's often called Main Justice.

Mythili Raman, who was the U.S. attorney's appellate chief, has been serving as acting chief of staff in the criminal division at Main Justice since summer and is expected to be kept in the job by the new criminal chief, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer.

James M. Trusty, who was deputy chief of the U.S. attorney's Greenbelt office and who oversaw the Maryland federal prosecution of the MS-13 gang, became deputy chief of the national gang unit at Main Justice in March.

Breuer said in a statement that the new leaders from Maryland are a testament to the Justice Department's ability to recognize talent and Rosenstein's ability to develop it.

"Rod has cultivated an incredible roster of attorneys, and, knowing Rod, I expect he'll continue to do just that," Breuer said.

Rosenstein, who has about 70 assistants divided between Greenbelt and Baltimore, said the promotions speak highly of his staff, but the turnover has left some important jobs to fill in a short time.

"For me, it's a mixed blessing," he said.

As a young federal prosecutor, first at Main Justice and then at the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland, Rosenstein had opportunities to take on special assignments like those some of his supervisors have been given. As U.S. attorney, he said, he has encouraged that sort of exchange of talent: "I think it's critical that the DOJ have experienced federal prosecutors in some of these positions."

Although the Obama administration has begun to fill U.S. attorney positions across the country, it does not appear to be rushing to replace Rosenstein. Chosen by President George W. Bush, Rosenstein has been U.S. attorney in Maryland since 2005, and the state's two U.S. senators, Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, both Democrats, have expressed confidence in his work as the state's top federal prosecutor.

But Mikulski and Cardin did not support Bush's 2007 nomination of Rosenstein for the long-vacant Maryland seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, and the nomination did not move forward. Filling the seat, which has been open since August 2000, is a top priority for the state's U.S. senators.

With the strong support of Cardin and Mikulski, U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis of the federal court in Baltimore was nominated by President Obama last month, and a vote is expected within weeks.

The appellate court seat and what will be two openings on the federal district in Maryland, if Davis is confirmed, have been the focus of attention by the senators and their staffs in the first months of the new Democratic administration.

That has meant something of an extended tenure for Rosenstein, who has spent his entire career in government and has not appeared to be in any rush to leave his post for the private sector.

Indeed, the promotions to Main Justice have given Rosenstein the opportunity to put in place new leaders for some of the office's key units.

Trusty, who was second in command in Greenbelt and helped oversee the local-federal efforts to tackle Latino gangs and other violent crime in Prince George's County, was succeeded as deputy chief by Michael R. Pauzé. Pauzé was one of the prosecutors in the case against former Prince George's schools chief Andre J. Hornsby.

Raman, who oversaw appeals for the Baltimore and Greenbelt offices, was succeeded by Michael J. Leotta. Leotta had been a prosecutor in the fraud and corruption unit in Baltimore.

Weinstein, who had been in the office since 2002, was in charge of its Exile program, which works with police to bring federal cases against repeat violent offenders. His successor in the U.S. attorney's office has not been named.

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