A U.S. attorney in charge of several high-profile and controversial cases during Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.'s tenure is planning to leave his post next month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.
Neil MacBride, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has overseen a grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks, as well as leak prosecutions of former CIA officials John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling. The government is fighting to compel a New York Times reporter, James Risen, to testify in the Sterling case. Kiriakou was sentenced in January to 30 months in prison for disclosing information that identified a covert agent.
Under MacBride’s leadership, prosecutors convicted Amine el-Khalifi and Farooque Ahmed for terror plots against Washington, indicted Megaupload.com for alleged intellectual property infringement in one of the largest criminal copyright cases and convicted former U.S. Congressman William Jefferson for illegal conduct and bribery.
MacBride, whose office is based in Alexandria, Va., did not disclose his next career move, but said he is "looking forward to taking a big chunk of time off to be with my family." He previously practiced criminal and civil litigation at what is now DLA Piper, and oversaw the Business Software Alliance's global copyright enforcement program as the technology trade association’s general counsel and a vice-president.
Holder said in a statement that MacBride "worked tirelessly to make a lasting difference for Americans across—and far beyond—his district."
"He has distinguished himself as an exceptional leader, a committed public servant, and a brilliant attorney—handling complicated cases with extraordinary skill," Holder said. "Over the many years we have worked together, I've always been grateful for Neil's dedicated service, his personal friendship, and his principled stewardship of our nation’s justice system."
In a statement, MacBride said he was leaving his "dream job" in the district where he and his wife have raised their children. "Not only is EDVA home to great symbols of our country—the Pentagon, the CIA, the Norfolk Naval Base—we are also blessed to have the most talented and dedicated prosecutors and professional staff in the Justice Department," MacBride said.
An acting U.S. attorney will be appointed until a permanent replacement is nominated and confirmed by the Senate.
MacBride previously worked as associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. MacBride was also chief counsel for then-Senator Joseph Biden, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs.