Stephanie Rose said last week it’s a good time to be a U.S. attorney because “the reins” have been relaxed on the district offices, which allows them to set their goals.
Rose, appointed in November as the federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Iowa, said the priorities for each office are usually dictated by the U.S. Department of Justice, but
Attorney General Eric Holder has encouraged the districts to set goals based on their own needs.
“They’re moving away from the old policies of the Justice Department and giving us more freedom,” Rose said. “It’s really liberating for the people (prosecutors) who do these jobs.”
Terrorism is still the top priority for the Justice Department, but Rose said that isn’t as big a problem in Iowa compared with other areas of the country. So on Friday, she shared some of her priorities with The Gazette.
She said her focus will remain on the most violent or serious child pornography offenders; felons in possession of guns and drugs; drug traffickers; and bank robberies. Her other priorities on the criminal side include “nuisance felons,” fraud and environmental crimes.
Nuisance felons, Rose said, are those arrested by local law enforcement every few years, such as drug offenders, who spend minimal time in jail and then return to cause more trouble in the community. Federal prosecutors often can charge these offenders in federal court and take them out of the community for a much longer time.
Patice Bolden, 27, of Cedar Rapids, is one example. In 2008, Bolden was convicted in Linn County and sentenced to five years in state prison for involuntary manslaughter. But he also was charged under federal law for being the leader in a conspiracy to purchase crack cocaine in Illinois and sell it in Cedar Rapids, and in February he was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison on those charges.
Rose said the tough economy has led to an increase in large-scale fraud crimes, which is why they’re among her priorities.
“This district is fortunate because there are people who are willing to report these kinds of frauds and to serve as witnesses,” Rose said. “ … In other parts of the country, they don’t have that. People aren’t willing to come forward.”
On the civil side, Rose said she will focus on an effort to increase compliance with the American Disabilities Act. With all the post-flood construction in Eastern Iowa, she said, issues have cropped up in the last year or so.
“There has been increased enforcement and civil penalties in this area,” she said. “And honestly, there’s just more of an aging population in this area where mobility for them is limited, so awareness increases.”
Rose said she is looking forward to wrapping up the Agriprocessors fraud case with former vice president Sholom Rubashkin’s sentencing this week, to free up assistant federal attorneys for other prosecutions.