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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



JUNE 1, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


U.S. ATTORNEY UNVEILS MISSION-ORIENTED

TRANSFORMATION


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced a significant office reorganization today that includes several new units oriented around priority objectives, as well as new positions and promotions among several senior staff members.


            “Criminals in the 21st Century are increasingly sophisticated, and their crimes are more complex and farther reaching than ever," Wood said. "We are seeing change across a broad spectrum that includes terrorism, fraud and corruption, violent crime, narcotics, and child exploitation. We are transforming the U.S. Attorney's Office to meet these new threats and emerging challenges. The structural and staffing changes I am announcing today are designed to tackle the priorities I have previously identified and to achieve our District's specific goals moving forward.”


            The transformation includes the creation of three new units, each oriented toward a specific mission:


            * The Terrorism & National Security Unit will be headed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Garrett, who has served as antiterrorism coordinator within the General Crimes Unit. The new Terrorism Unit will include additional prosecutors and an intelligence specialist.


            “Terrorism is the Department of Justice's top national priority, and I have made it a personal priority for me as well,” Wood said. “It is an issue that I care deeply about and worked on extensively at the Department of Homeland Security. The creation of this new Terrorism Unit will help solidify the importance of this office's terrorism work for many years to come.”


            * The Violent Crime Strike Force Unit will consolidate violent crime, firearms crimes, gang-related crime, and organized crime cases. The unit will be headed up by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Becker, longtime chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force (which will remain intact within the new Violent Crime Unit).


            “This district has earned a national reputation for prosecuting firearms crimes, and we will use the same aggressive approach to combat gang-related crimes,” Wood said. “This strategic approach is designed to make our neighborhoods safer by getting more violent criminals off the street.”


            * The Fraud & Corruption Unit will specifically focus on the types of complex fraud, corruption, and financial crimes that the federal government is uniquely qualified to handle. A unit chief will be announced in the near future.


            “The Fraud & Corruption Unit will include many of the most experienced white collar prosecutors in our office,” Wood said. “This new unit will focus on cases that best utilize the federal government's resources and expertise.”


            With this reorganization, the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office will consist of the following well-defined, mission-oriented units: (1) Terrorism & National Security, (2) Violent Crime, (3) Fraud & Corruption,(4) Computer Crimes & Child Exploitation (under Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Valenti) and (5) Narcotics (under Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Coonrod). The Appellate Unit will continue to work with each of the five Criminal Division units.


            The five units under the new structure are consistent with the five priorities that Wood has previously identified: (1) terrorism, (2) violent crime, (3) fraud and corruption, (4) child exploitation, and (5) methamphetamine.


            In addition to the creation of new units, Wood announced that he has launched a project that will explore additional avenues for transformation to address the changing nature of crime in the 21st Century. This effort, entitled “Project Horizon,” will be headed by Senior Litigation Counsel Gene Porter and will include a broad range of attorneys and staff members.


            Wood also announced the appointment of three individuals to serve on the senior leadership team:


            * Matt Whitworth will serve as First Assistant and Criminal Chief. Whitworth has been Criminal Chief since 1997 and served as First Assistant under the Interim U.S. Attorney. He has been in the U.S. Attorney's Office since 1988 and previously served as Chief of the Financial Fraud Unit.


            * Brent Powell will serve as Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney. Powell, currently the chief of the General Crimes Unit, has been in the U.S. Attorney's Office since 2001. Previously, he served as an Assistant Prosecutor in the Platte County Prosecutor's Office and as an attorney at Lathrop & Gage. In his new capacity, he will be involved in all aspects of management of the office.


            * Roseanne Ketchmark will serve as Counsel to the U.S. Attorney. Ketchmark is a former First Assistant U.S. Attorney and Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, she served in two county prosecutors offices. In total, she has been a prosecutor for 17 years and involved in office management for 11 years. Ketchmark will also work in the new Fraud & Corruption Unit while leading a wide range of special projects that are of particular importance to the U.S. Attorney.


            “While working in several positions in the Department of Justice, I have had the great honor to work with many outstanding career attorneys,” Wood said. “Matt, Brent, and Roseanne are among the best that I have seen anywhere in the country. I am deeply honored that they are taking on these important responsibilities, and I am grateful to them for their service. Together, they form a talented, experience, and dynamic leadership team.”


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html