Michael C. DiLorenzo, a Charles County assistant state's attorney who has prosecuted some of the area's most notorious crimes during the past seven years, is resigning to take a job with the U.S. Department of Justice.

DiLorenzo, 34, will be a prosecutor in the Justice Department's litigation unit, and his primary responsibility will be to investigate and prosecute international drug dealers.

As a trial attorney, DiLorenzo was known more for his thorough preparation and attention to detail than for dramatic courtroom theater. Behind the scenes, he gained a reputation as a tough plea negotiator who often caused defense attorneys to grumble.

"The offers weren't really negotiable," said Patrick L. Devine, a La Plata attorney who has gone head-to-head with DiLorenzo. "If that's a part of your livelihood, that's a hard thing to deal with."

DiLorenzo said the most rewarding case he prosecuted was the 1998 murder of Paul S. McDonald, 52, who was tied up in his St. Charles home, robbed and fatally shot. The killing shocked Charles County residents and kept the Carrington neighborhood on edge for months before Charles A. Durham was arrested in 1999 and charged with first-degree murder.

Durham, who was convicted after a trial, was sentenced to life in prison plus 95 years. An accomplice was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 15 years.

Just last week, DiLorenzo received convincing evidence that he did his job well in Charles County. A man he once prosecuted was in court again and walked over to DiLorenzo and said: "I just wanted to congratulate you on your new job."

"Oh, really, how'd you hear about that?" DiLorenzo asked.

"I heard it down in the jail," the man said. "Everybody was celebrating."

-- Michael Amon