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Press Release

New Leadership Team Announced for the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

MACON, Ga. – U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary has elevated three Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) to leadership roles within the 70-county U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah McEwen has been named the Deputy Criminal Chief; Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Helmick will become the Branch Chief for the Columbus, Georgia, Division; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Simon will serve as the Senior Litigation Counsel (SLC) for the Civil Division. These three attorneys join recently promoted First Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Chief Shanelle Booker, Civil Chief Kevin Abernethy and Senior Litigation Counsel (SLC) for the Criminal Division Robert McCullers to comprise the legal leadership in the office.

“These individuals are highly qualified and have displayed both wisdom and passion in their pursuit of justice on behalf of the people they serve,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “It’s critically important to the larger mission that our Office continues to develop a cutting-edge team dedicated to making our communities safer and upholding justice for all.”

Deputy Criminal Chief Leah McEwen will supervise the Albany and Valdosta Divisions in her new role, overseeing criminal cases involving hundreds of defendants annually. Deputy Criminal Chief McEwen has served as both Senior Litigation Counsel (SLC) and Director of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. A career prosecutor, she worked as a Dougherty County Assistant District Attorney before turning to federal prosecution, joining the Albany Criminal Division in 2005. Deputy Criminal Chief McEwen’s expertise includes leading large multi-agency drug and criminal gang prosecutions. She successfully prosecuted the nation’s first criminal case involving an unlicensed drone operator who attempted to drop drugs into a Georgia prison and was invited to share her knowledge with national OCDETF leadership. Deputy Criminal Chief McEwen frequently provides training to prosecutors and law enforcement on criminal legal issues and was named Georgia’s Arson Prosecutor of the Year. A native of the Middle District of Georgia, she earned both her undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer University, with high honors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Helmick will become the new Branch Chief for the Columbus, Georgia, Division, effective July 17. Assistant U.S. Attorney Helmick joined the office in 2018, serving in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions. Before becoming a federal prosecutor, AUSA Helmick clerked for several years for U.S. District Judge Clay Land and U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles, both of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, and she also worked for a Columbus-based law firm. AUSA Helmick’s experience ranges from violent crime prosecutions to large-scale fraud cases. She has worked on high-profile civil cases defending the United States and is the Border Security Coordinator for the Office. AUSA Helmick will manage the second-largest staffed Division within the District. A graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law and Furman University, AUSA Helmick was admitted to multiple honor societies and academic groups. Born in Georgia, she is active in the Columbus community, volunteering with both civic and religious organizations, and is currently on the executive committee for the Columbus Inn of Court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Simon will serve as the new Senior Litigation Counsel (SLC) for the Civil Division. Before joining the Middle District in 2018, AUSA Simon served in two components of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.: first as an attorney with the Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, then as a Senior Attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Previously, AUSA Simon clerked for Justice Ayala Procaccia of the Supreme Court of Israel and worked with a private law firm in Atlanta. Since 2020, he has served on the adjunct faculty of Mercer University School of Law. As the Civil Division’s SLC, AUSA Simon will focus on high-profile civil cases at the district court and appellate levels and develop training opportunities for attorneys and community stakeholders. AUSA Simon is the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in a leadership role within the Office. He received his law degree from Tulane University Law School and his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, graduating with high honors. A first generation American, AUSA Simon grew up in Marietta, Georgia.

The Middle District of Georgia encompasses 70 of Georgia’s 159 counties, and includes Albany, Athens, Columbus, Macon and Valdosta with a population of approximately 2,045,000 people. The office is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the District, including crimes related to terrorism, public corruption, child exploitation, fraud, firearms, illegal gangs and narcotics. The office also defends the United States in civil cases and collects debts owed to the United States.

Updated July 14, 2022