August 22, 2004 – After a 28-year career of putting the bad guys away, and after 30 months as the Virgin Islands top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney David Nissman has called it quits. As he cleared out his desk to get ready for a new chapter in his life, Nissman said the territory is being left in good hands.
The veteran prosecutor said he was not ready to disclose the reason why he was leaving his position as U.S. Attorney short of his four year-term.
Nissman said Friday he had seen many changes in the way the V. I. government handles its criminal cases and in the legal support system over the past 18 years that he spent prosecuting territorial and federal cases.
"Even while I was an assistant, I worked really hard browbeating these federal agencies to get them to address their responsibilities in the Virgin Islands out of the theory that we in the Virgin Islands deserve the same level of federal protection as every other community in the country," he said.
One of the most visible signs of that message getting through, he said, is a shift away from having federal prosecutors working on local cases. There was also a change in scope, with the addition of white-collar crime enforcement and cases dealing with government integrity.
Nissman also points to a larger federal law enforcement presence in the Virgin Islands. "When I first came here in 1987 there was only one FBI agent in the Territory. There were no DEA agents, there were no IRS agents, there were no ATF agents, there were no Inspector General agents," he said.
Now the Territory has more than two-dozen assorted federal agents, including a postal inspector. Even during his final days in office, Nissman joined a delegation of local officials meeting with officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and helping to make the case for greater border protection.
As of Monday, the Virgin Islands will have a new federal presence in the prosecutor's office, as First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Jenkins takes on the role of Acting U.S Attorney for the Virgin Islands. Jenkins' appointment actually took effect Friday evening, with the blessings of the White House and the Department of Justice in Washington.
"Tony is going to be a great leader. He and I are as close as you can be philosophically," Nissman said.
And that philosophy, according to Nissman, views it as the duty of the U.S. Attorney to determine the most significant criminal and civil problems at the federal level and to devise strategies to address them.
It's a view that helped bring about significant cases during the past two and a half years, including the Plaza Extra Supermarket case, the first federal tax case resulting in criminal prosecution(See "Former Plaza Extra Controller Pleads Guilty to Fraud"). and the case involving Global Resources Management, Inc, where territorial officials were steered away from the possible misuse of government revenues. (See "Judge Finds 'Reek Of Politics' In Sewage Contract").
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