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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz Announces Departure

BOSTON – United States Attorney Carmen Milagros Ortiz announced today that she will be stepping down from her post as United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. 

Ms. Ortiz tendered her resignation to the President and Department of Justice last week, and spoke with Attorney General Loretta Lynch yesterday to confirm her departure.  Ms. Ortiz will step down on Friday, January 13, 2017.

Today’s announcement marks the end of Ms. Ortiz’s 19-year career as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  She prosecuted white-collar crime in the Office’s Economic Crimes Unit for 12 years before the late Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator John Kerry recommended her to President Barack Obama for the position of U.S. Attorney.  President Obama nominated her in September 2009 and the United States Senate voted unanimously to confirm her in November 2009.  She is the first woman and the first Hispanic to serve as U.S. Attorney in the District of Massachusetts.

“I have been honored to serve the people of Massachusetts as U.S. Attorney and to have been part of this Administration,” said Ortiz.  “It has been a privilege to work alongside some of the most talented professionals in the Department of Justice.  Together we prosecuted many significant cases that have resonated around the nation.  While I am excited about the future and look forward to embracing new challenges, I will miss participating in the important work this office is involved with on a daily basis.  Some of the accomplishments of which I am the proudest have been in the areas of counterterrorism, white collar prosecutions, civil rights enforcement, combatting human trafficking and child exploitation, and community outreach.  We have brought countless criminals to justice, sought recourse for many victims and survivors of crime, and worked tirelessly to make our communities safe and healthy places to live and work.” 

Under Ms. Ortiz’s leadership, prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office convicted former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi, infamous gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  Prosecutors also investigated and charged more than sixty alleged MS-13 gang members, crippling the gang’s East Coast leadership; charged fourteen former owners and employees of the New England Compounding Center in connection with a deadly nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak; charged six former employees of Insys Therapeutics, Inc., of running a nationwide racketeering scheme to bribe medical practitioners to unnecessarily prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication and defraud healthcare insurers; and negotiated a $3 billion settlement with global healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline LLC to resolve fraud allegations and failure to report safety data -- one of the largest health care fraud settlements in U.S. history.

Ms. Ortiz implemented the Office’s first civil rights initiative in 2010, which paved the way for the creation of a Civil Rights Unit in 2016.  The unit enforces federal civil rights laws that protect the rights of the most vulnerable and underserved members of the community.  Through the work of the Civil Rights Unit, Ms. Ortiz has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of our nation’s service members, enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, and combat employment and housing discrimination, hate crimes and human trafficking.  Ms. Ortiz also oversaw an independent investigation into allegations of civil rights violations at Boston Latin School that resulted in a resolution with the Boston Public Schools.

While in office, Ms. Ortiz met head-on one of the District’s toughest challenges -- the statewide opioid epidemic through tough enforcement and awareness campaigns.  She also created robust re-entry initiatives across the Commonwealth, routinely met with young people to discuss making the right decisions in life, and worked with state and local partners to address the needs of our local communities to fight crime.  Ms. Ortiz met regularly with many community groups, including BRIDGES (Building Respect in Diverse Groups Enhances Sensitivity), a group comprised of government representatives and leaders of the Massachusetts Muslim, Arab and Sikh communities to discuss issues of concern.  She also convened a number of town halls across the state and met frequently with local community leaders to discuss issues of public safety, community policing and civil rights.    

Ortiz said, “As I look ahead, I hope that my time in this office will reflect the many challenges and the vast and diverse caseload that I have overseen during the past seven years, from prosecuting violent crime and public corruption, to enforcing civil rights, to our broad reach into local faith communities, schools and neighborhoods.  I will miss the many individuals and groups I have come to know well but I will especially miss my colleagues, many of whom I call my friends.  They are some of the most knowledgeable, passionate and hardest-working prosecutors and justice professionals in the country, and it has been an honor to serve with them.  I want to thank our many partners in law enforcement, from local and state police to county sheriffs and, of course, our federal partners, for their unwavering support, dedication and commitment to seeking justice.”

Ms. Ortiz is a graduate of George Washington University Law School (J.D.) and Adelphi University (B.B.A.).  For more information on Ms. Ortiz’s background, see: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/meet-us-attorney.

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Updated December 21, 2016