U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach to step down next month - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach to step down next month

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach. (Source: justice.gov) United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach. (Source: justice.gov)

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach has announced that he had submitted his resignation to President Obama and Attorney General Lynch effective on Feb. 5, 2016. 

Dettelbach, 50, stated that he plans to reenter private practice.

"Serving as the United States Attorney, and leading and working with the incredible men and women of this office and so many law enforcement agencies, has been the single greatest honor of my professional life," Dettelbach said. "I want to thank President Obama for affording me that rare opportunity. I hope that in the future I can both serve my clients well and remain an active part of this incredible community through public service."
As U.S. Attorney, Dettelbach continued to focus on corruption, violent crime and fraud while also making civil rights and cybercrime new priorities.  He made efforts in each of those areas to not only ramp up enforcement, but to prevent crime by engaging the community through outreach and creative programming.

Dettelbach emphasized transparency, publicly issuing releases on nearly every case charged. He also took steps to enhance the internal review of cases, requiring for the first time prosecution memoranda and indictment review committees in significant cases. He created a dedicated unit to focus on civil rights violations, both criminal and civil, and dedicated two prosecutors to cyber enforcement and formation of the Northern Ohio Cyber Security Consortium with leading businesses in the area. He created a new position of outreach coordinator to better understand community needs, and successfully managed the office through unprecedented Washington-based budget crises, including a federal government shutdown and sequestration cuts, while continuing to bring significant and impactful cases and collect in each and every year several times the office budget in fines, civil judgments and forfeitures from crime proceeds.

Under his leadership, the office negotiated an agreement to reform the Cleveland Division of Police, with emphasis on better use-of-force policies, more training, increased accountability, supervision and more robust community engagement. It also entered into voting rights agreements that for the first time ever resulted in bilingual ballots in Lorain and Cuyahoga Counties in order to comply with Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act. 
He also brought together a diverse group of stakeholders – hospitals, doctors, law enforcement, treatment professionals, people in recovery and others – to attempt to find a comprehensive solution to the district's heroin and opioid epidemic. That approach has become a national model replicated throughout the country including Atlanta, Minneapolis, Maine and New Mexico.

Among the cases prosecuted under Dettelbach:

  • Human trafficking convictions against more than 40 defendants including Jeremy Mack, the Elyria man sentenced to life in prison for trafficking drug-addicted women and girls, and Jessica Hunt and Jordie Callahan, sentenced to 32 and 30 years in prison, respectively, for holding a woman with cognitive disabilities and her child against their will and forcing the woman to perform manual labor.
  • U.S. v. Antun Lewis, twice convicting the defendant now serving 35 years in federal prison for setting the deadliest house fire in Cleveland history, which killed eight children and one adult.
  • More than 1,000 firearms indictments filed against often violent felons during his time in office, one of the leading offices in the nation in that regard.
  • U.S. v. Randolph Linn, an Indiana man now serving 20 years in prison for driving to Ohio to set fire to the largest mosque in the Toledo area.
  • Five indictments using death-specification enhancements for people who sold heroin that directly contributed to a fatal overdose.
  • The indictments and convictions in U.S. v. Samuel Mullet et al. on charges of hate crimes based on five violent religiously based attacks on Amish victims, which were reversed based on a jury instruction error, and witness tampering which resulted in significant prison sentences for all 16 defendants.
  • Successfully prosecutions for fraud and bribery, one of which he personally tried, involving the collapse of the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union failure in United States history.
  • U.S. v. Kevin Dye, another case personally tried by Dettelbach resulting in the conviction and 60-year prison sentence of a violent felon for firebombing the Mansfield Courthouse and City Hall.
  • U.S. v. Schatz: William B. Schatz, the general counsel of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, took bribes totaling approximately $682,130 from Robert J. Kassouf, a contractor on NEORSD's Mill Creek Tunnel project. Stanley Lojek was an intermediary for the bribes. Schatz also embezzled approximately $166,940 from the NEORSD. Schatz was sentenced to nearly six years in prison, Kassouf was sentenced nearly five years in prison and Lojek was sentenced to one year in prison.
  • U.S. v. Alatrash: Faisal Alatrash, a project superintendent for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison following his trial for taking bribes from contractors and steering work to his wife's cleaning company.  
  • U.S. v. Ugochukwu: Christopher Ugochukwu is serving a 26-year prison sentence for leading an organization that brought heroin from Nigeria, Mexico, and Colombia and sold it throughout Greater Cleveland. Authorities seized more than 20 kilograms of heroin in 2010, believed to be the largest heroin seizure in Ohio history. Twenty-three people were convicted of crimes for their roles in the operation.
  • U.S. v. Ricks: Keith Ricks, the leader of a group that brought large shipments of heroin from Atlanta and Chicago and sold it around the East Side of Cleveland, was sentenced to life in prison. A jury found that Ricks led a conspiracy that included scores of people, robbed rival drug dealers and used violence to control the sale of heroin in the neighborhood around St. Clair Avenue and East 117th Street. Nearly 60 people were convicted in the case.
  • U.S. v. Wright, et al.: Douglas Wright, Brandon Baxter, Anthony Hayne, Connor Stevens, and Joshua Stafford convicted for the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for their efforts to blow up the Route 82 bridge that spans the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Wright was sentenced to 11 years in prison, Baxter to nearly 10 years, Hayne to six years, Stevens to eight years and Stafford to 10 years in prison.
  • U.S. v. Akl, et al: Hor and Amela Akl, a married couple in Toledo, were caught attempting to send $200,000 in cash to Hizbollah in Lebanon that was to be concealed in the side panel of the door of a car that was to be shipped to Lebanon. Hor Akl was sentenced to more than six years in prison and Amera Akl was sentenced to more than three years in prison.
  • ISIL cases: Amir Al-Ghazi, of Sheffield Lake, was indicted on charges of providing material support to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as firearms and narcotics violations. Al-Ghazi is alleged to have pledged his support to ISIL via social media in 2014. From July 2014 to June 2015, Al-Ghazi made multiple statements trying to persuade others to join ISIL. He also expressed his own desire to perpetrate an attack on the U.S. and attempted to purchase an AK-47 assault rifle. Terrance McNeil, of Akron, was indicted for with soliciting the murder of members of the U.S. military. McNeil professed his support on social media on numerous occasions for ISIL and encouraged ISIL sympathizers to behead and stab members of the military in the U.S. Both cases are pending.
  • U.S. v. Persaud: Westlake cardiologist Dr. Henry Persaud was sentenced to 20 years in prison for performing unnecessary catheterizations, tests, stent insertions and causing unnecessary coronary artery bypass surgeries as part of a scheme to overbill Medicare and other insurers by $29 million.
  • U.S. v. Hazelwood, et al.: Nine people were convicted in one of the largest Internet pill diversion cases in the country and the first in the district. The case involved Hazelwoood and other doctors prescribing and dispensing hundreds of thousands of pills to people who contacted them via web sites Hazelwood controlled.

Dettelbach previously served for 12 years as a career federal prosecutor. During those years, he worked at the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section; U.S. Attorneys Offices in Maryland and Washington, D.C.; and from 2003 to 2006 in the Northern District of Ohio, as a member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Strike Force.  As a line federal prosecutor, Dettelbach handled numerous high-profile cases, including public corruption and bribery cases such as U.S. v. Nate Gray and U.S. v. Emmanuel Onunwor, the prosecution of numerous corrupt officials and businesspeople involving the Cleveland Water Department, and U.S. v. Litten, a multimillion dollar bankruptcy fraud in Maryland.  He also won convictions in what was, at the time, the largest human trafficking case ever brought in the United States, in which approximately 70 Thai women were held against their will and forced to work in El Monte, California.

Dettelbach is one of only five U.S. Attorneys to be appointed to the Attorney General's Advisory Council by both Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. Dettelbach chaired the subcommittee on Civil Rights during the entire length of his service as United States Attorney, tying him as the longest serving Subcommittee Chair of any United States Attorney in the Administration.

Dettelbach also was detailed to serve as Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 2001 to 2003. Dettelbach was previously a partner at the law firm of Baker & Hostetler, LLP. 

Dettelbach graduated from Dartmouth College in 1988 and from Harvard Law School in 1991. He lives in Solon, Ohio with his wife and two children.

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