The Gonzales Seven - Part I

Cho, AvaHome and Roxy
Original Publication Date
Gonzales Seven

What do U.S. Attorneys Lam, Ryan, Bogden, Iglesias, Cummins, Charlton, and McKay have in common?

The short answer: They may have been encouraged to resign by the United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

It is no news by now that over the past few months (and gaining speed since the November elections returned the House, the Senate and many state governments to Democratic control) Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department has been moving stealthily to force at least 7 U.S. Attorneys out of their appointed positions.

Gonzales himself acknowledges that (since the reauthorization of the Patriot Act (in March 2006) which allows for these interim "recess appointments") 11 U.S. Attorneys have resigned. With only 93 U.S. Attorneys, this represents a full 11.8% turnover in less than 9 months.

The last time this many US Attorneys have been forced out in one fell swoop was back in, well, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein quoted Peter Nunez: "This is like nothing I have ever seen in my 35-plus years." Nunez, who served as the San Diego U.S. Attorney from 1982 to 1988, has also stated: "I've heard nothing but complaints over the last six years about how many things the Justice Department is demanding relating to bureaucracy and red tape."

Notably, in these seven cases there appears to be no allegations of wrong doing.

So who are the seven and who replaces them?

California: Carol Lam

Nominated by George W. Bush 9/4/2002 and approved by US Senate 10/8/2002

Carol Lam was asked to resign, after successfully investigating and prosecuting Duke Cunningham, as well as his connection to Jack Abramoff. The reason for her removal comes in a statement made to the North County Times:

In a Tuesday phone interview from his Washington office, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said Lam was asked to step down.

Issa declined to name the source of the information, but said "it was a high-ranking administration official involved in the decision process."

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune

Lam, a Bush appointee who took the helm in 2002, was targeted because of job performance issues – in particular that she failed to make smuggling and gun cases a top priority, said the official, who declined to be identified because Lam has yet to step down.

Her dismissal comes in the midst of her "massive investigation of public corruption that has already lead to high officials in the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, the Congress, and perhaps even the White House." Since 1989, Lam's been a specialist in white collar crime and major fraud.

Cases under investigation by Lam's Office

The WSJ has this ...

The U.S. attorney's office in San Diego has been investigating former CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo to determine whether he committed illegal acts in influencing the awarding of CIA covert contracts. Mr. Foggo resigned from the CIA in May 2006, shortly after The Wall Street Journal disclosed the investigation.

And there is this from the LA Times ...

Federal prosecutors in San Diego have subpoenaed documents from three House committees as part of an investigation into special-interest earmarks in spending bills.

The demand ratchets up an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego into contracts awarded by the Defense Department and other agencies. The probe stems from the bribery case against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe), who pleaded guilty and resigned in 2005.

Cases prosecuted by Lam

Carol Lam spearheaded the investigation and prosecution of Randy "Duke" Cunnigham.

California: Kevin Ryan

Nominated by George W. Bush 5/15/2002 and approved by US Senate 6/13/2002

As yet the reasons for Ryan's sudden departure remain unclear. He is noted as saying (Northwest News Channel 8) he reached a "mutually agreeable decision with Washington" to step down.

Cases under investigation by Ryan's Office

As Burrows continues, "Still my guess is that Ryan's departure means the odds of criminal charges against Apple or Steve Jobs got a bit longer today."   Like Lam, Ryan has a long history of specializing in white collar crime and fraud. According to McClatchy's Washington Bureau's article, Ryan was also overseeing high-profile investigations into steroids use by major league baseball players.

Cases prosecuted by Ryan

Ryan, the US Attorney based in Northern California (one of only two offices with a stand alone Securities Fraud Section), worked in conjunction with the FBI. And what was Ryan working on?  "Options related transgressions, such as backdating ... 'around that time, he also created a backdating task force'" ... Peter Burrows reports for Business Week.

Nevada: Daniel G. Bogden (R)

Nominated by George W. Bush 9/5/2001 and approved by US Senate 10/18/2001

Bogden was either fired or asked to resign.

From The Las Vegas Review-Journal

It was unclear whether Bogden was fired or asked to resign and for what reason. Exactly when it all happened also was unknown Sunday. Repeated attempts to contact Bogden and his office were unsuccessful. The Review-Journal's phone calls to his spokeswoman, Natalie Collins, were not returned by Sunday night.

Cases under investigation by Bogden's Office

On November 7, 2006 Las Vegas EyeWitness News reported on federal investigation into alleged fraud by prominent Las Vegas doctors and lawyers.

U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden won't talk about the case except to say he has a special team of prosecutors for this type of alleged fraud. When the I-Team's Colleen McCarty asked FBI honcho Steve Martinez whether the case was going away, his answer was telling.

"Well, we have ongoing investigations and 'm not really in a position where I can discuss ongoing investigations, but I can tell you those kinds of schemes exist in a lot of communities. We have white collar resources here to address those types of situations specifically, and we are very aggressive about going after that kind of thing, especially when you've got people in positions of trust who are willing to compromise that trust. We look at that very hard," said Steve Martinez,  FBI special agent in charge.

Cases prosecuted by Bogden

Just last year, Bodgen's office won corruption convictions against two Clark County, Nevada Commissioners and who may be "looking into campaign law violations by at least one member of the state's Congressional delegation."

But Bogden also had three major setbacks in Las Vegas last year.

the federal racketeering case against about 40 Hells Angels members unraveled;
In February, U.S. District Judge James Mahan threw out a $14 million securities fraud case for failure to provide the defense with documents;
Also in February, U.S. District Judge Robert Jones dismissed charges against Dr. R.D. Prabhu. Prosecutors alleged Prabhu submitted false Medicare claims.

New Mexico: David C. Iglesias (R)

Nominated by George W. Bush 8/2/2001 and approved by US Senate 10/4/2001.

Iglesias was also asked to resign. "I asked (why) and wasn't given any answers," Iglesias told the Union-Tribune. "I ultimately am OK with that. We all take these jobs knowing we serve at the pleasure of the president."

So, who is replacing Iglesias? In a statement, U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici said,

"It is my pleasure to recommend four individuals that I believe would serve New Mexico and the nation with distinction as U.S. Attorney for our state. I am familiar with each of them, and I believe that they have the necessary legal backgrounds and right temperaments for the job. I look forward to President Bush's choice."

All four mentioned by Domenici are lawyers: Jim Bibb, Glenn Ellington, Charles Peifer and Pat Rogers.

Cases under investigation by Iglesias' Office

From the Albuquerque Tribune ...

Rumors have also swirled for months about an investigation into corruption involving major public construction projects in Bernalillo County including the state District Courthouse and Metro Courthouse.

An FBI spokesman confirmed in October that an investigation had been forwarded to Iglesias' office - although he declined to specify details. Since then indictments have regularly been expected and then delayed.

Cases prosecuted by Iglesias

Iglesias, working with the FBI, was responsible for charging two state treasurers with extortion.

Additionally, he recently wrote an editorial for The Washington Times (2/17/06) in support of the House Bill on Immigration Reform, specifically citing the need to crack down on the smugglers who traffic in illegal immigrants while displaying concern for the immigrants themselves: "Our existing alien smuggling laws are inadequate, outdated and unnecessarily complicated."