FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FRIDAY - June 10, 2011
U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA STEPS DOWN
RALEIGH – George E.B. Holding, who has served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina since June 2006, today announced he was stepping down his position effective July 8, 2011.
Previously, Holding served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney during the tenure of former US Attorney Frank D. Whitney from 2002 to 2006.
Regarding his departure, Holding stated:
“It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. I came to the United States Attorney’s Office in March of 2002 with the mission of making this office into one of the best law firms in North Carolina. We have succeeded.
The people of eastern North Carolina should be confident that they have an excellent team of prosecutors and civil attorneys working tirelessly to enforce the laws and pursue justice.
I am proud that during the past nine plus years, we have successfully addressed our national and district priorities, such as aggressive prosecution of violent criminals, child predators, drug traffickers, white collar criminals, would-be terrorists, and corrupt public officials.”
With respect to DOJ’s anti-gun-violence program, “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” during Holding’s tenure, prosecution of gun crimes in the EDNC rose from the 1990s level of fewer than 100 per year to about 300 per year. At the 2010 PSN national conference in New Orleans, the EDNC was recognized as the nation’s Outstanding Overall/Partnership Task Force. Local authorities have reported significant drops in violent gun crimes in communities where local law enforcement has teamed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in PSN programs. For instance, Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan in 2010 credited increased federal prosecutions in his city for cutting the city’s homicide rate in half, adding, “The thugs are on their heels.”
While Holding has been U.S. Attorney, the EDNC has been a leader in DOJ’s “Project Safe Childhood,” a nationwide effort against persons who victimize children by the production, distribution, and possession of child pornography, as well as sexual assaults upon children. The USAO-EDNC has made combating child sexual exploitation and abuse a priority, resulting in some of the lengthiest sentences ever being handed down in the this district–as high as 140 years. The office’s leadership in this area has led to participation at a national and international level in advising policymakers, planning nationwide operations, and teaching investigators and prosecutors about effective pursuit of these cases.
Holding has also presided over anti-drug efforts as part of the national Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, augmented by the EDNC’s own “Eastforce” program, in which federal authorities team with state and local agencies to prosecute illegal drug traffickers. Regarding OCDETF, the EDNC is in the southeast region, which consists of 20 federal districts. The EDNC has 40% of the open OCDETF cases in the region, which demonstrates that the EDNC has effectively targeted major drug traffickers, as does the fact that the average EDNC sentence in drug trafficking cases is about twice the national average.
Under Holding, the USAO-EDNC has prosecuted scores of significant fraud cases in the areas such as investment fraud, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and fraud against the Government. Among the noteworthy fraud prosecutions were those involving the executives of International Heritage, Inc., the promoters of the investment scam “Mobile Billboards,” the first-in-the-nation prosecution for a false claim to the Gulf Coast Claims Fund Facility for compensation due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and a recent health care fraud case in which the owner of a provider of HIV case management and other support services was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and ordered to pay over $4.6 million in restitution.
Holding strengthened the office’s anti-terrorism section. The section has participated in training efforts for law enforcement agents and first responders, and sponsored training of the financial industry on how to combat terrorist financing. In July 2009, seven defendants were indicted in a significant terrorism case for allegedly conspiring to promote terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad. Two have pled guilty and the rest are pending trial.
In a 2006 jury trial, the office secured a conviction of the first person charged under a provision of the Patriot Act which extended jurisdiction of United States District Courts to crimes committed by United States civilians on overseas installations. The defendant, a CIA contractor working in Afghanistan, was convicted of assault inflicting serious bodily injury for the beating of an Afghani prisoner.
In the nine years that Holding has served in the USAO, the prosecution of public corruption has been given a high priority. Although the attorney and staff time devoted to these investigations is a tiny fraction of the overall total, there have been a number of noteworthy prosecutions of public officials of both political parties. These include a former Commissioner of Agriculture of North Carolina, a former Congressmen (for conduct while a state senator), a state district court judge, a former state senator (for export violations), a former state representative, the former Speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives, and three county sheriffs. Most recently, the office, in tandem with the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of DOJ, brought an indictment against a former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate.
Holding said, “Our prosecutions have disrupted the culture of self-dealing and corruption that has existed in some circles among those who wield political power in Raleigh.”
During Holding’s tenure the office also partnered with the DOJ’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training in the ongoing development of a viable and reliable criminal justice system in the Republic of Kosovo. Now in its third year, the EDNC-Kosovo Initiative pairs EDNC prosecutors and law enforcement officers with their counterparts in Kosovo as they develop criminal cases, institute consistent and effective prosecutorial guidelines, and improve courtroom skills. Holding has strongly supported this initiative and has traveled to Kosovo to lead the effort and strengthen this partnership.
Holding noted: “The partnership between the EDNC and prosecutors in Kosovo has led to significant improvement in the criminal justice system in Kosovo and is an integral part of the United States Government’s effort to develop and sustain viable democratic institutions in southeastern Europe. The staff of the EDNC continues to have a strong long-term commitment to this project.”
Speaking of all the work done during his tenure, Holding said, “None of these successes would be possible without our strong partnerships, not only with Federal law enforcement but also with State law enforcement, specifically, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and all the sheriff’s offices and police departments of our district.”
Holding added, “During the past 9 years we have strengthened our working relationship with our colleagues in the various components of Main Justice, in particular Civil Rights, Counter Terrorism, Counter Espionage, Public Integrity, Environmental Crimes, and the Tax Division.”
“When a United States Attorney leaves office, he or she inevitably leaves behind unfinished business. However, every United States Attorney takes the same oath. So there should be no concern that the business of law enforcement will falter or diminish with the change in leadership.”
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce