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Press Release

Former United States Attorney Joseph H. Harrington Retires from the Department of Justice After More than Thirty Years of Federal Service

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Spokane, WA – Today marks the last day of federal service for one of Eastern Washington’s longest-tenured federal prosecutors. Over the past thirty-two years, Assistant United States Attorney Joseph H. Harrington served with distinction and held numerous leadership roles within the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington.

From May 2018 through July 2019, Harrington served as the United States Attorney, leading the office after being appointed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. Prior to that, Harrington served as Interim U.S. Attorney, Acting U.S. Attorney, the Office’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Criminal Chief, Deputy Criminal Chief, Anti-Terrorism Advisory Coordinator, and as the Office’s Health Care Fraud Coordinator.

Over his career as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA), Harrington handled nearly 50 civil and criminal trials as well as approximately 70 appellate cases. These included a number of important prosecutions.  For example, Harrington prosecuted Kevin W. Harpham, an avowed white supremacist who planted a sophisticated remotely-controlled improvised explosive device along the route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Unity March in Spokane. He handled the Phineas Priest domestic terrorism case, involving bank robberies and bombings of a Planned Parenthood office and a Spokane newspaper facility. Harrington also supervised the Karl F. Thompson / Otto Zehm civil rights case. In addition to this broad-ranging criminal practice, Harrington defended the United States in civil cases involving medical malpractice tort claims, employment discrimination allegations, and the like. For his service, Harrington has received the Department of Justice “Director’s Award” on two occasions in recognition of his performance as an AUSA.

“It’s been a great run for me, and I’ve been incredibly lucky,” Harrington stated. “I was humbled and honored to serve as the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer for our District – serving alongside the outstanding and dedicated Assistant United States Attorneys and staff in our office. Together with our federal, state, county, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, our Office has accomplished remarkable things in the Eastern District of Washington.”

United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref thanked Harrington for his leadership and sacrifices on behalf of the people of Eastern Washington: “Joe’s eloquence, tenacity, and advocacy on behalf of the United States serve as models for other lawyers both inside and outside the Office.  Over his long and successful career, Joe has earned a gravitas that accrues not only to himself and the Office, but to his longtime and well-served clients: the people of the United States.  Joe’s leadership, wisdom, and institutional knowledge will be missed as he moves on to other pursuits, but the legacy he leaves cannot be diminished.”

Harrington received his J.D. from Gonzaga University in 1986, where he was a Thomas Moore Scholar and served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Gonzaga Law Review. He also holds a B.A. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Engineering from Carroll College. After graduating with distinction from the Gonzaga, Harrington worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington D.C. before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane in 1990. Harrington is married and has three children.


Richard Barker 
Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-835-6311 or

Updated January 3, 2023