HOUSTON – United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson has announced that he will resign as chief law enforcement officer for the Southern District of Texas (SDTX) effective midnight March 10, 2017.
“It has been privilege and a honor to serve as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas,” said Magidson. “It has been a hallmark of my administration to ensure that our office lived up to the ideals of justice. The ability to everyday protect the interests of the United States has truly been a great blessing and a hallmark of my career. I am confident that our office will continue to live up to these ideals.”
Magidson was nominated by former President Barack Obama in June 2011 and began serving as U.S. Attorney for the district on Sept. 30, 2011, following confirmation by the Senate. As the leader of one of the busiest districts in the nation, Magidson oversaw nearly 370 employees, including approximately 180 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the 7th largest district in the country, covering 43,000 miles and representing 8.3 million people. His resignation today brings to a close nearly 35 years of federal law enforcement experience.
The Southern District of Texas saw a wide variety of issues due to the large metropolitan area of Houston and proximity to the border that Magidson equally considered a priority. In his five and a half years as U.S. Attorney, prosecutors in his office convicted nearly 40,000 defendants.
He believed in protecting this district and held national security as one of his primary concerns, recently securing the conviction of a 24-year-old man of attempting to provide material support to ISIL. Weeding out public corruption, civil rights and protecting people from the harms associated with illegal immigration and human smuggling were also considered paramount.
Magidson also combatted the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children with cases brought as a result of Project Safe Childhood. The SDTX actively supported this initiative through coordination of federal, state and local law enforcement efforts to prosecute predators and rescue child victims. Under his leadership, prosecutors fought to help bring criminals to justice and protect the most vulnerable members of our society. The SDTX convicted, on average, one defendant each week during his tenure.
Trafficking in persons is a form of modern-day slavery and a particular problem in the SDTX with its many miles of border with Mexico. Magidson placed a high emphasis on prosecuting those traffickers who often prey on the poor, frequently unemployed or underemployed and who may lack access to social safety nets. One such example was the conviction of 68-year-old woman behind a 14-defendant sex trafficking ring operating in Houston. This notable case is one of the most significant in scope and magnitude to be tried to a verdict of guilty on all counts, and one of the few in which as many as 12 victims of an international sex trafficking scheme came forward to testify at trial. The defendant later received life in prison.
Aggressively prosecuting drug traffickers through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) was also a top priority, as was the targeting of criminals involved in violent crime with significant prosecutions for bank and armored robberies as well as firearms offenses.
Finally, Magidson led the office in its fight to combat fraud throughout the district. Magidson believed in protecting the interests of the U.S. and the citizens of the district by targeting identity thieves, telemarketers, tax evaders and persons engaged in insurance fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, mortgage fraud and fraud committed against federal agencies. Additionally, the SDTX consistently ranked as one of highest in terms of federal health care fraud prosecutions throughout the nation.
During his tenure, the office’s civil division also handled a large caseload of civil litigation in some of the most difficult and important cases the government faces, including resolution of the border fence issues, defending serious medical malpractice claims and recovering millions in criminal debt and civil fraud. In 2015, Magidson also established a new Civil Rights Section within its Civil Division that has the authority to investigate and to remedy civil rights violations within the district.
Prior to serving as U.S. Attorney, Magidson served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) in the SDTX since 1983. For most of that time, he was the OCDETF Regional Coordinator for the Southwest Region, which includes all of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and the Central and Southern Districts of California and encompasses 11 federal judicial districts. The OCDETF program targets the most significant drug trafficking and related money laundering organizations operating in the United States. Previously, as chief of the Narcotics Division, he supervised assigned AUSAs in addition to his regional OCDETF coordination duties.
In 2008, Magidson was called upon to serve as the Harris County District Attorney upon appointment of then Texas Governor Rick Perry. As the District Attorney of the third most populous county in the United States, he managed an office with more than 300 prosecutors and investigators.
Cognizant of his experience and accomplishments, the Department of Justice asked Magidson to serve under then Attorney General Janet Reno as the director for the Executive Office for OCDETF in Washington, D.C., from May 1996 through May 1997. In that role, he was responsible for a broad range of management, financial and administrative duties and supervised a staff consisting of professional and support staff deemed necessary for performing the duties of the office.
Prior to his federal career, Magidson served as an Assistant District Attorney in Harris County. During that time, he served as the chief felony prosecutor in the 177th District Court and was responsible for the prosecution of major felony crimes including capital murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries, kidnappings and more.
Magidson graduated from the University of Maryland and holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston.