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Press Release

United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. Announces Selection of First Assistant and Counsel to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana

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

Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announces the selection and appointment of April Leon Johnson to First Assistant United States Attorney.   Mrs. Johnson is the first woman and African American woman appointed to this title.  The former First Assistant United States Attorney Ellison C. Travis is now Counsel to the United States Attorney.

Mrs. Johnson has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana where she is assigned to the Special Matters Division.  She also served as the criminal civil rights coordinator and human trafficking coordinator for the Middle District.  Previously, she clerked for the Honorable Benjamin Jones and Honorable Carl Van Sharp of Louisiana’s 4th Judicial District Court before joining the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office as an Assistant District Attorney in 2009.  During her tenure at the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office, Mrs. Johnson earned an administrative position as Section Chief of Section IV Trials and has the distinction of being the first African American woman in the Parish to obtain such status. 

Since joining the Department of Justice in April of 2022, Mrs. Johnson has had the distinction of representing the Middle District at the Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference.  She also served on the United States District Court’s Merit Selection Panel to consider the reappointment of United States Magistrate Judge Erin Wilder-Doomes, and the host committee for the 28th Annual African American Heritage Celebration.  She participated in piloting “United Against Hate” outreach programs across the district in a nationwide effort by the Department of Justice to combat hate crimes and encourage discussion between representatives of law enforcement, community organizations, and members of the public.

Mrs. Johnson obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Howard University in 2004 where she studied Communications and Rhetoric.  She then obtained her Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center.  During her law school tenure, she was selected by the faculty as a member of the moot court and mock trial competition teams. Mrs. Johnson externed as a law student at East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office as a Special Assistant Rule XX Prosecutor and tried her first case as a prosecutor before graduating.

Mrs. Johnson’s accolades include an appointment by Governor John Bel Edwards to the Louisiana Women's Incarceration Task Force as well as a Writing Fellow for Southern University Law Center where she assists recent graduates with preparation and passage of the Louisiana State Bar Examination.  Her involvement in the legal community consists of mentoring with Louisiana State Bar Association’s “Transition Into Practice” Program, and memberships in the National Black Prosecutors Association, Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Federal Bar Association, and Louisiana State Bar Association.  She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Mr. Travis has served as First Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Louisiana since 2018.  He was appointed and sworn in as the Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana from March 2021 to December 2021, following the resignation of Brandon J. Fremin who had served as the United States Attorney since 2018.

Previously, Mr. Travis was with the Louisiana Department of Justice for over twenty years.  During his tenure with the Louisiana Department of Justice, he served as the Director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Criminal Division (2017-2018), as an Assistant Attorney General in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (2002–2017), and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division (1997–2002).  Mr. Travis also served as an Assistant District Attorney (1990–1996).  During his thirty years in public service, he has prosecuted all manner of criminal matters, including violent crimes, financial crimes, and public corruption.  Mr. Travis helped author and pass legislation to penalize those who commit electronic abuse of persons with infirmities and those who commit public program fraud.  He also represented the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the state Legislative Task Force on Medicaid Fraud Prevention.

Mr. Travis received his Juris Doctor from Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Louisiana State University.

Updated October 24, 2023

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