U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Virginia stepping down

teen trafficking case

US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, G. Zachary Terwilliger speaks on an MS-13 sex trafficking case at a press conference Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 outside the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger is stepping down from his post with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) on Friday, Jan. 15, effective at 11:59 p.m., according to a release.

Terwilliger began his career at EDVA as an intern in 1999, returned in 2005 as a summer law clerk, was appointed as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2008, and was hired as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2010.

He was officially confirmed as U.S. Attorney for EDVA by the Senate in 2018.

“It is with tremendous gratitude for the women and men of Team EDVA, our selfless federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and my incredibly supportive family that I conclude my time in public service,” Terwilliger said. “It has been the honor of honors to be in the arena with so many dedicated individuals in the pursuit of justice, and I feel so fortunate to conclude my service as the United States Attorney in the district where it all began. To the people of the EDVA, thank you for the extraordinary opportunity to serve you. May you and your families have a safe, healthy, and productive 2021.”

According to a release, Terwilliger focused on combatting the opioid epidemic and illegal firearms trafficking, as well as violent crime in Richmond and the Tri-Cities.

“Terwilliger showed extraordinary commitment as a partner in the efforts to rid the City of Petersburg of dangerous criminals and change the lives of our citizens who lived in constant fear,” Chief of Petersburg Bureau of Police Travis Christian said. “His efforts were not just conversations from an office. He helped put actual boots on the ground here in Petersburg.”

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Terwilliger signed the first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR), which underscored a commitment to prosecuting criminally scammers looking to take advantage of the health crisis.

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for EDVA say there was an increase in the number of criminal defendants charged by the office in 2018 and 2019, going from 924 in 2017 to 1,029 in 2018, and to 1,091 in 2019.

“Our approach was to fish with a spear, not a net,” Terwilliger said. “Meaning it was not about mass arrests, but about strategically using federal resources to arrest those repeat and violent offenders that commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime and who have already had multiple opportunities at the state level.”

According to a release, EDVA’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh will serve as Acting U.S. Attorney, upon Terwilliger’s departure.

Terwilliger says he will be joining the Vinson & Elkins LLP law firm as a partner in its Washington, D.C. office.


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