NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Attorney David Fein announced Tuesday he will resign after three years as Connecticut's top federal prosecutor, a period marked by crackdowns on sexual abuse of children, financial fraud prosecutions and the arrest of four police officers in East Haven on civil rights charges.
The 52-year-old Fein, whose resignation is effective May 13, said he intends to return to the private sector but hasn't decided on his next job.
"It's a very mixed blessing in that I've loved the three years serving as U.S. attorney but at the same time it's the right move for me and my family at this time," Fein said. "It's with a heavy heart that I leave the office. It's been a tremendous experience serving as U.S. attorney here in the district."
Fein cited more than 60 child exploitation matters, including cases involving a former Peace Corps volunteer convicted of sexually abusing young girls in South Africa and a Colorado man convicted of sexually abusing children at a school he founded in Haiti. Fein said the cases showed a commitment to pursue evidence abroad and to go after people in positions of trust, such as doctors, police officers and teachers.
Fein created a task force to crack down on Ponzi schemes, insider trading and financial crimes. A hedge fund manager was prosecuted for defrauding investors and creditors of hundreds of millions of dollars in what authorities called the largest financial fraud case prosecuted in the district, while other cases focused on mortgage fraud schemes that preceded the real estate market crisis.
Four East Haven police officers were arrested on civil rights charges and the town reached a settlement last year mandating wide-ranging reforms of the police department to resolve claims that officers engaged in a pattern of discrimination and abuse toward Latinos. One of the officers has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and another pleaded guilty to using unreasonable force during an arrest, while the two others have pleaded not guilty.
Fein last year announced Project Longevity, an initiative aimed at reducing gun and gang violence in Connecticut's major cities by directly engaging violent groups with warnings and offers of assistance to change. Fein said an operation in New Haven targeting drug trafficking and gang violence which resulted in charges against more than 100 people was the largest of its kind in the district.
"I think he did a masterful job," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told The Associated Press. "I think he went after drugs and drug gangs exceptionally well with many large-scale arrest operations which I very much appreciated."
Hugh Keefe, a defense attorney in New Haven, said he strongly disagreed with Fein's policy of sending out agents to make physical arrests of people rather than let them voluntarily surrender. Fein said his office consults with law enforcement on arrests or surrender and noted that authorities are mindful of the serious nature of white collar crimes.
Before Fein took office, a wave of public corruption scandals brought down a governor, two mayors, a state senator and numerous aides. While Fein was U.S. attorney, eight people were charged in connection with a scheme to hide the source of campaign contributions to former Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan's failed congressional campaign.
Donovan was not charged and has denied knowing about the scheme. Seven of the eight people charged have pleaded guilty.
Other cases include the prosecution of Hector Natal, who earlier in April was found guilty of committing an arson in New Haven in 2011 that killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy.
Before serving as U.S. Attorney, Fein was a partner at the law firm of Wiggin and Dana, a former federal prosecutor and a White House lawyer.
An acting U.S. attorney will be appointed U.S. Attorney before Fein leaves. The state's two U.S. senators will then make recommendations for a replacement ultimately nominated by President Barack Obama and subject to Senate confirmation.