U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Announces Departure At End Of Obama Administration
GRAND RAPIDS — Patrick A. Miles, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, today announced his resignation effective noon on January 20, 2017. He informed President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch of his decision yesterday Wednesday, January 4. “I am extremely blessed and grateful for the opportunity to serve the public in this capacity over the past four and a half years,” Miles, 49, said in a statement. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to lead such an outstanding team of crime-fighters and people who work hard every day to protect the interests of America and its citizens.”
“Since 2012, Patrick A. Miles, Jr. has served the Western District of Michigan -- and the American people -- with distinction and honor,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Under his leadership, the district successfully stepped up its efforts to prosecute those who exploit the most vulnerable members of our society, commit violent crimes, or defraud taxpayers. Patrick also asserted leadership in reducing recidivism through programs that help returning citizens find jobs and obtain social services. During his term, Patrick's office hosted the first-ever job fair for returning citizens. And Patrick worked hard to strengthen his community -- from forging strong channels of communication between community members and law enforcement officers, to educating local parents and physicians about prescription drug and opioid abuse. I want to thank Patrick for his tireless devotion to the cause of justice, and I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his career.”
Miles became U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan on July 9, 2012 after 21 years in private law practice in Grand Rapids as a business attorney. He assessed the strengths and potential of the office through individual meetings with each of the 37 assistant U.S. attorneys and federal judges in Michigan’s Western District as well as meetings with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s 45 staff members. After those meetings, Miles took the following first-ever actions for the Office:
- Reorganized the Office’s Criminal Division into four sections -- Organized Drug Crimes, Violent Crimes, Financial Crimes, and National Security -- to streamline management and prosecutorial decisions;
- Created several new task forces for his federal prosecutors to team with law enforcement agents and officers to develop cases proactively;
- Placed each Assistant U.S. Attorney in at least one proactive task force or unit handling reactive cases; and
- Implemented an annual strategic planning process at each level in the office that established specific goals and accountability.
“We get tremendous results in this Office and every day it feels like we make a positive difference,” Miles stated. “From the start of my tenure as U.S. Attorney I focused on protecting the vulnerable and taxpayers. That is why we put more emphasis on preventing and prosecuting cases of children being exploited through pornography or sex trafficking, seniors being targeted by financial scammers, and those who commit fraud against the government and our health care system.” Some criminal prosecution highlights during his tenure include the following:
- The Western District’s first-ever child sex trafficking federal prosecution occurred in 2014 against Eddie Jackson. Jackson was convicted of sex trafficking three teenage girls and received a 30-year federal sentence. Since then, Miles’s office has prosecuted 11 defendants for sex trafficking minors.
- Over the past four years Miles’s child exploitation prosecution team obtained 106 convictions involving the sexual exploitation of children using the internet, resulting in over 1,700 aggregate years of federal sentences.
- Evan Knoll received a 17-year federal sentence in 2012 for defrauding over $82 million from the U.S. government and banks.
- Kim Mulder, the former CEO of Kentwood Pharmacy, conspired to commit a $79 million healthcare fraud based on billing Medicare Part D plans, Medicaid and private insurance plans for misbranded and adulterated drugs and received a 10-year federal prison sentence in 2015.
Combating Gang and Group Violence
Miles also said he prioritized addressing violent crime with locally-tailored strategies. “We changed our approach to reducing violent crime in our seven urban cities of Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Holland, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Muskegon Heights by forming violent crime reduction task forces in 2013 to work with federal, state and local law enforcement to continuously identify and prioritize for federal prosecution the people, groups, and gangs causing the most neighborhood shootings and disruptions,” Miles stated.
Miles said he was particularly satisfied by the 2013 federal indictment against 31 members and associates of the Holland Latin Kings gang wiping out the criminal enterprise that had caused many problems for over a decade in Holland, Michigan. His office obtained 31 convictions for a range of offenses, including conspiring to engage in racketeering, possessing firearms and conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana which resulted in a total of 340 years of federal prison sentences.
Effective Prisoner Re-Entry
Miles highlighted the emphasis he placed on effectively returning citizens from prison to their community as a crime reduction strategy. “Nationally, two-thirds of those released from prison will be re-arrested within three years. In Michigan, we have about a 30 percent rate of recidivism. With 800,000 Americans being released from prison annually, we must get that recidivism rate lower.” In 2014, Miles introduced the “Facing Choices” program where he and the County Prosecutor, Sheriff, a Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agent, and local Chief of Police in each of the seven urban cities in the Western District address a group of recent Michigan Department of Corrections parolees and give them a “tough love” speech of warning and encouragement and steer them to social services agencies for assistance.
Miles’s U.S. Attorney’s Office hosted its first-ever job fair in September 2016 where approximately 200 returning citizens connected with about 20 employers in Grand Rapids. “Employment is crime prevention,” Miles noted. “If a prison sentence results in a life-time ban on employment, then people will likely return to criminal activity. I’m not calling for a preference to hire those with a criminal record, I’m just asking employers not to rule someone out automatically if the past offense is not related to the job opening.”
“Improving the relationship between law enforcement and community members was very important to me from the outset as U.S. Attorney,” Miles noted. Since becoming U.S. Attorney Miles co-chaired the Grand Rapids chapter of Advocates & Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT) group which started in 2012 and consists of local community leaders from different backgrounds who meet regularly with federal, state, and local law enforcement agents and officers to discuss a variety of topics. He also helped form and supported ALPACT groups in Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Holland, Kalamazoo, and Lansing. “We need trust between community and law enforcement to prevent and address shared problems. It’s difficult to develop trust in a crisis situation. It takes communication for a relationship, and it takes a relationship to develop trust,” Miles noted.
In the fall of 2014 Miles began meeting with law enforcement leaders in Berrien, Calhoun, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa Counties to discuss their protocols and best practices before, during, and after an officer-involved shooting. “We are blessed overall with very professional police departments. I encourage police community outreach at the top and on the streets not only to influential community leaders from the Generation X and Baby Boom generations, but also to those in the Millennial Generation who have significant local social media followings.”
The first prosecutor Miles hired in 2012 as U.S. Attorney was a Major in the U.S. Army who served in Baghdad, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As U.S. Attorney, Miles also hired the Office’s Administrative Officer, Human Resources Officer, Budget Officer, and his executive assistant who are all U.S. Army or National Guard veterans. Miles received a 2013 Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee for his hiring and support of reservists and veterans.
Miles’s Office hosted the local ceremony in 2012 where four members of the Montford Point Marines, who were not able to travel to Washington, DC for their award, received their Congressional Gold Medals. Montford Point Marines were the first African American Marines and served in World War II.
Community Outreach and Education
In 2015, Miles and his Office developed and launched an educational program called Justice Scholars at Gerald R. Ford Middle School in Grand Rapids for 7th grade students to learn about the American criminal justice system from law enforcement agents and officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and probation and parole officers. For one hour each month during the school year the class receives a lesson from a professional about each step in the criminal justice process as well as that career. In the final session, the class conducts a mock trial with instruction from attorneys in a federal courtroom with a judge presiding. Justice Scholars expanded to Lansing Middle Schools in 2016.
Miles, along with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and the State Attorney General, organized Michigan’s first-ever Prescription Drug Awareness Summit in 2013 which was held in Lansing. Widely attended by law enforcement, education and medical professionals, the Summit raised awareness of prescription pain killer drug diversion and addiction and of various programs and initiatives responding to the epidemic. The increasing use of opioid pain killers is also feeding the heroin epidemic so Miles and his Office are actively educating parents, physicians, and the public about those risks and dangers as well as prosecuting healthcare providers who prescribe drugs illegally in addition to prosecuting illegal drug trafficking organizations.
President Obama nominated Grand Rapids native Miles to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan on March 29, 2012, and Miles was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on June 29, 2012. Prior to his presidential appointment Miles, a 1991 Harvard Law School graduate, was a partner based in Grand Rapids with a large, national law firm. Miles, who served as president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association from 2004 to 2005, was the Democratic nominee for Michigan’s Third District Congressional seat in 2010. He did not announce his future career plans, only stating, “I’m looking forward to the next challenge, whatever that may be.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan has 38 attorneys and a total staff of 83 with offices in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Marquette. The district covers 49 counties, including Michigan’s entire Upper Peninsula. The Office’s immediately prior presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorney was Margaret Chiara who was appointed by President George W. Bush and served from October 2001 until March 2007.
For additional information on the accomplishments of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan under the direction of U.S. Attorney Miles, please refer to the Year in Reviews for years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015: