GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Patrick Miles, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of
Michigan, announced today a reorganization of the office’s Criminal Division, some office
leadership changes, and the formation of new task forces. Miles, who took office on July, 9, 2012, is organizing the Criminal Division into the following four sections: Organized Drug Crime Section, Violent Crimes Section, Financial Crimes Section, and a National Security Section. “These four Criminal Division Sections better align U.S. Attorney’s Office resources with Department of Justice priorities and help our attorneys and paralegals specialize in specific areas,” Miles said.
Miles described the focus of the Organized Drug Crime Section as working to disrupt largescale drug-trafficking organizations including, but not exclusively, those that qualify for prosecution by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF targets regionally-sourced drug trafficking organizations. The Section also includes a new Drug Diversion and Prescription Fraud Task Force to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.
According to Miles, the Violent Crimes Section focuses on organized gangs and violent
criminal enterprises within the district, major-target firearm offenders, bank-robbery rings and the Project Safe Childhood initiative which addresses child pornography and exploitation. It includes a Project Safe Neighborhood Task Force that works with Federal law enforcement, local law enforcement, and communities to rid neighborhoods of gang and drug violence. The Financial Crimes Section prosecutes a variety of economic crimes, including Ponzi schemes, investment fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, bankruptcy fraud, government program fraud, and official corruption. This Section has a new Health Care Fraud Task Force, Environmental Task Force, Mortgage Fraud Task Force and Official Corruption Task Force.
The National Security Section is responsible for supporting counterterrorism and
counterespionage investigations and prosecutions in the district. In addition, the Section
prosecutes civil rights violations, human trafficking, alien offenses, identity theft and
cybercrime. A new Anti-Terrorism Task Force, Identity Theft/Cybercrime Task Force, and
Criminal Civil Rights Violations Task Force are part of this Section.
U.S. Attorney Miles named Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Nils Kessler as the new Chief of the Criminal Division and supervisor of the Financial Crimes Section. Kessler is in his 12th year as an AUSA.
During that time he was the lead AUSA in the District’s branch office in Marquette before transferring to the main office in Grand Rapids following a stint as an AUSA in the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans). He has past service as the office’s Project Safe Neighborhood coordinator. Miles said of Kessler, “As a line AUSA, he has handled and excelled at virtually every substantive area of criminal practice handled by the office, including areas as diverse as complex financial crime, violent crime in Indian Country and drug crime.
He is regarded as a leader among the line AUSAs and management in the integration of technology and litigation practice, making him uniquely qualified to lead the Criminal Division goingforward as new software and related technologies increasingly infiltrate our handling of discovery and case presentment.” Kessler is a U.S. Military veteran, having served five years as an active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia.
Kessler replaces Brian Delaney as Criminal Chief. Delaney served in that capacity since January 2006 and is now a Deputy Chief supervising the Organized Drug Crime Section and the Asset Forfeiture/Financial Litigation Unit. Delaney joined the Office in 1989 and served briefly as an Interim U.S. Attorney in 2007. “AUSA Delaney has served the Western District of Michigan in a variety of ways, gets results, and is an excellent prosecutor who leads by example,” Miles stated.
Delaney is a DePaul Law School graduate and a former FBI Special Agent.
Miles named Daniel Mekaru as the other Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and he will
supervise the Violent Crimes Section and the Marquette Branch Office. Mekaru has been an AUSA for 17 years. In that time he has been the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) coordinator, which investigates and prosecutes child exploitation, abuse, and pornography distribution. In his role as a Deputy Criminal Chief, he will continue to supervise the PSC initiative along with other violent crime prosecutions.
He is also the office’s Grand Jury Coordinator. According to Miles, “As Grand Jury Coordinator AUSA Mekaru has overseen the introduction of technology in thegrand jury room, transitioned the office to an electronic system for reserving time before the grand jury and capably monitored the efficient use of grand jury time on the whole. He is a dedicated prosecutor who has handled some of the most difficult and challenging cases the office receives.”Mekaru is a graduate of the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University College of Law.
Miles selected AUSA Donald Daniels as supervisor of the National Security Section. Daniels became an AUSA in 1980. He has served as Executive Counsel (Indictment Reviewer) for thepast 10 years and will remain in that position.
He was also a supervisor in the General Crimes Unit from 1993 to 1994, and Deputy Criminal Chief from 1994 to 1998. Following his graduation from the University of Michigan School of Law, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Wendell A. Miles, District Court Judge for the Western District of Michigan. “Don Daniels is an invaluable member of this office. He contributes in a variety of ways and will continue to do so,” Miles added.
Miles appointed Philip Green as the office’s Senior Litigation Counsel. In that capacity AUSA Green will mentor and assist in the training of new AUSAs. Green had been Deputy Criminal Chief since December 2006. He joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1998 as the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division until serving as interim U.S. Attorney for ten months in 2001, and then served as the First AUSA from the fall of 2001 until the end of 2004.
Following his graduation from St. Louis University Law School in 1990, he clerked for the Honorable Theodore McMillian of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
U.S. Attorney Miles asked AUSA Andrew Birge to continue in his role as First AUSA, a
position Birge has held for the last five years.
The First AUSA helps the U.S. Attorney manage the day-to-day affairs of the office. Miles likewise is retaining AUSA Ryan Cobb as Chief of the Civil Division, a position held by Cobb since 2010, and AUSA Jennifer McManus as Chief ofthe Appellate Division, a position she has held since 2008. Birge is a graduate of Columbia University Law School and both Cobb and McManus are Harvard Law School graduates.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan has a Criminal Division, Civil Division, Appellate Division, and Administrative Division. The Western District of Michigan has 49 counties, including the entire Upper Peninsula and 11 Federally-recognized NativeAmerican Tribes. The main office for the Western District of Michigan is located in Grand Rapids. There are staffed offices in Marquette and Lansing, and an unstaffed office located in Kalamazoo. Current staffing levels include 36 attorneys and 38 support staff.