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
FEBRUARY 18, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. ATTORNEY JOHN F. WOOD ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that he has submitted his resignation to the President, effective February 28, 2009.
Wood, who was appointed as the U.S. Attorney by former President George W. Bush and sworn into office on April 11, 2007, has accepted a position as a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of a leading Wall Street law firm.
“Service as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri has been the highest honor of my professional career,” Wood said. “I believe deeply in the office’s mission of pursuing justice, and I have been incredibly fortunate to serve with many of the most dedicated public servants in the country. I know that their outstanding work will continue.”
During Wood’s tenure, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has brought some of the most important and complex cases in the history of the district. The office has been particularly active in areas of national concern, such as terrorism and national security, corporate crime, mortgage fraud, and consumer protection. For example, Wood led the largest corporate fraud investigation in the history of the Western District of Missouri, resulting in a multi-million dollar corporate fine and guilty pleas from the top former executives of the American-Italian Pasta Company. (U.S. v. Webster and U.S. v. Schmidgall) By creating the Fraud & Corruption Unit within the office and creating the position of Securities Fraud Coordinator, Wood helped ensure that the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes and the integrity of financial markets will remain priorities for the office during this time of great volatility.
Under Wood’s leadership, the office indicted two Chinese companies and their top executives for allegedly exporting tainted pet food ingredients to the United States, which resulted in the death and serious illness of countless pets. The office also indicted a Nevada-based corporation that purchased the tainted pet food components in China and imported them into the United States to sell to companies in the food industry. ( U.S. v. Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., et. al. and U.S. v. Chemnutra, et. al.)
Terrorism and national security matters were a top priority for Wood, who previously served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Wood created the Terrorism & National Security Unit within the U.S. Attorney’s Office and also announced the superseding indictment of the Islamic-American Relief Agency (IARA), for allegedly sending money to Pakistan to benefit a terrorist who has pledged holy war against the United States and has engaged in terrorist acts on behalf of al Qaeda and the Taliban. This prosecution also reflects a strategy of targeting the crimes – such as terrorist financing, money laundering, or identity theft – that enable terrorist networks to operate. (U.S. v. IARA, et. al.)
The office has been among the leaders in the country in combating the mortgage fraud epidemic. Under Wood’s leadership, the office indicted one of the largest mortgage fraud cases ever prosecuted in the district, involving 17 defendants and an alleged $12.6 million mortgage fraud scheme covering 25 residential properties in Lee’s Summit and Raymore, Mo. (U.S. v. Clark, et. al.)
The office has also brought several cases that have a global reach. In addition to the IARA and pet food cases mentioned above, the office indicted and obtained convictions of 11 individuals, mostly Kenyan nationals, for stealing the identities of nursing home patients and attempting to obtain more than $13 million in fraudulent tax refunds using the stolen identities. Proceeds from this conspiracy were wired to Kenya, where some the defendants remain fugitives from justice. (U.S. v. Alexander, et. al.)
Likewise, the office charged four Missourians as part of an international investigation targeting the illegal manufacturing and trafficking of anabolic steroids and its raw materials, mainly from China. These cases are the result of Operation Raw Deal, the largest steroid enforcement action in U.S. history, which took place in conjunction with enforcement operations in Mexico, Canada, China, Belgium, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Thailand. The Missouri defendants purchased steroid materials online from China and then sold them in the United States. (U.S. v. Wilson, et. al., U.S. v. Varner and U.S. v. Schrage)
During Wood’s tenure, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also reached a $60 million civil settlement with the Lester E. Cox Medical Centers in Springfield to compensate the Medicare trust fund for payments that Cox improperly claimed and received.
Another significant criminal prosecution resulted in the conviction and death penalty for Lisa M. Montgomery, 40, of Melvern, Kan. Montgomery was found guilty of kidnaping infant Victoria Jo Stinnett in December 2004 by cutting her from her mother’s womb in order to claim her as her own child, taking the baby across the state line from Skidmore, Mo., to Melvern. Montgomery's actions resulted in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, the baby's mother. At the time of her death, Bobbie Jo Stinnett was eight months pregnant.
Under Wood’s leadership, the Western District of Missouri has remained among the leading offices in implementing two of the Department of Justice’s national priorities – Project Safe Neighborhoods and Project Safe Childhood. Project Safe Neighborhoods in a national initiative to reduce gun crimes. It networks existing local law enforcement programs that target gun crimes and provides a focal point for community activists in their anti-violence and anti-crime initiatives. Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse by marshaling federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
In addition to the successful prosecution of significant cases, Wood reorganized the U.S. Attorney’s Office to create several new units oriented around his priority objectives. The transformation includes the creation of three new units, each oriented toward a specific mission: the Terrorism & National Security Unit, the Violent Crime Strike Force Unit, and the Fraud & Corruption Unit. These structural and staffing changes 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) narcotics.
Two of Wood’s signature issues have been institutionalizing the office’s tradition and culture of professionalism and improving the office’s ability to utilize 21st Century technologies in the pursuit of justice. Toward those ends, Wood launched the Professionalism, Ethics, and Ethical Responsibility Group (PEER Group) to study professionalism issues and Project Horizon, a committee that is exploring additional avenues for transformation to address the changing nature of criminal prosecution in the 21st Century. These committees of career prosecutors have implemented important changes that will have a lasting effect upon the office, including the expansion of professionalism training within the office and greater use of computer technology in the courtroom and in the office.
During his tenure, Wood was directly engaged in the trial of two criminal cases and argued an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He also served on the Attorney General’s advisory committees on Terrorism & National Security and White Collar Crime.
Wood joined the Bush Administration in 2001 and held several prominent positions prior to becoming U.S. Attorney. He has previously served at the Department of Justice as a Deputy Associate Attorney General and as a Counselor to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. He has also worked at the White House as Deputy General Counsel for the Office of Management and Budget. His last job prior to being nominated by the President to serve as U.S. Attorney was as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is the third largest department of the federal government with approximately 180,000 employees and an annual budget of over $40 billion.
Wood, a native Missourian, graduated with Honors from the University of Virginia and served on the staff of U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth of Missouri. Following his service for Sen. Danforth, Wood attended Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude and served as Articles Chair of the Harvard Law Review. Following law school, he served as a law clerk for Judge J. Michael Luttig on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court of the United States. He then practiced law at a leading national law firm.
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