New Interim US Attorney Matthew Schneider takes the helm
(WJBK) - Ten months ago, President Donald Trump ordered U.S. attorneys across the country to resign forcing out the federal prosecutor who helped bring down Kwame Kilpatrick.
Problem Solver M.L. Elrick also helped end the corrupt mayor's career, now he's sitting down with the new U.S. attorney to discuss one of the top law enforcement jobs in Detroit
The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan is one of the longest titles in local law enforcement. It can be a tricky job, requiring a shrewd lawyer and a savvy boss who can balance the sometimes competing interests of politics and justice.
But at its core, the duties are simple: comfort the afflicted and convict the afflicters.
Barbara McQuade was U.S. attorney in December, 2010 the feds announced a sweeping indictment charging former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick with dozens of criminal charges ranging from bribery to extortion to fraud to racketeering. She held that job until President Trump ordered top prosecutors appointed by President Barack Obama to beat it
This past year featured a massive corruption scandal that rocked Macomb County.
Interim U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider spent some time working on the Kilpatrick case during his eight years as an assistant federal prosecutor in Detroit. He is in no hurry to wrap up the latest sweeping investigation into public corruption.
This one began several years ago in Macomb County.
"We're going to keep our foot on the gas in that case," Schneider said. "And other cases."
Schneider returns to the federal prosecutor's office in the top job after serving as Chief Deputy Attorney General under Bill Schuette.
"The priorities of mine and this office will be violent crime, gangs, corruption and terrorism," he said. "Those are issues that have been permeating this area for a long time."
In other words, don't expect a major shake-up or abrupt change in the way the feds work in southeastern Michigan. Even though Schneider is a Republican and McQuade was a Democrat, the new boss had only praise for McQuade and Daniel Lemisch, who had been running the office until U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Schneider two weeks ago.
"I believe Dan will always be a valuable part of this team," Schneider said. "Barb McQuade did a fantastic job with outreach to the community."
Schneider says he will continue to reach out to leaders throughout our diverse region.
"I've met with our Civil Rights unit here in the U.S. Attorney's Office and I've assured them that that mission is still important to the department, it's important to this region and we have to make sure that mission continues."
Andy Arena has known Schneider since Arena was the special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit office.
"Matthew is a very bright guy, he gets to the facts, he gets to it pretty quickly, he's a very likable person," Arena said. "I think that he'll do well in that office, he gets along with people.
"He knows the way things are, he knows the way things run. They're doing some great work right now, and I think that his first priority will be to continue to do that work."
Arena was something of a prophet seven years ago, when he expressed skepticism that our region's culture of corruption would end with Kwame Kilpatrick and his cohorts.
On Dec. 15, 2010 Arena said: "It's not going to be done until all public officials realize and understand that they serve the citizens on this city and of this area and they take that seriously. And it's not going to be done until we say it's done. I don't know when that day's going to be, but we're going to get there."
After retiring from the FBI, Arena started the Detroit Crime Commission, where he has continued to keep an eye on public corruption.
"The community is more in tune with it," he said. "They don't accept it, it's not like, 'Hey, this is the way we do business.' So I think from that standpoint it has changed, but people are still doing bad things. So you've got to push it, you've got to go after it."
The new top prosecutor in town seems like he not only gets the message, he's ready to spread the gospel.
"We have a duty here to ferret it out with our law enforcement partners, no matter where it is," Schneider said. "We're not going to isolate ourselves in just this tri-county area."