June 10, 2020 / 6:51 PM / 2 months ago

Top prosecutor overseeing Justice Department criminal division to depart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department’s top prosecutor overseeing its criminal division is leaving his post early next month, department officials announced on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO - Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Criminal Division stands during a news conference to announce indictments against China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, several of its subsidiaries and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, in a pair of cases accusing the company of everything from bank and wire fraud to obstructing justice and conspiring to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile US Inc., at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski will step down on July 3, the department said. President Donald Trump nominated the former Kirkland & Ellis law partner to the top Justice Department post in the criminal division, and he was later confirmed by the Senate in July 2018.

In a farewell letter seen by Reuters, Benczkowski said that Brian Rabbitt will take over his job as acting assistant attorney general of the criminal division.

Rabbitt is currently the deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division, and previously served as chief of staff to Attorney General William Barr.

“The decision to leave is my own and has been in the works for some time,” Benczkowski wrote, saying it was part of a transition plan that took root late last year.

“It has been a source of absolute pride to serve with you for the last two years,” he added.

In a statement, Barr praised Benczkowski for using data analytics as a tool to help the department root out fraud.

“One of his greatest contributions to the country were his efforts combating the nation’s opioid crisis.  His decision to use data analytics changed our approach and undoubtedly saved many lives,” Barr said.

Another major investigation overseen by Benczkowski that incorporated data analytics involved a $2.1 billion Medicare fraud takedown involving medically unnecessary genetic tests that was featured in a Reuters special report last year. [nL2N26G192]

In an interview with Reuters in 2019, Benczkowski said government was able to sniff out the fraud by spotting spikes in Medicare billings for genetic cancer testing.

More recently, he has been overseeing investigations into frauds tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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