DiBiagio is sworn in as U.S. attorney for Md.

N.Y. terrorist attacks hasten his assuming role of prosecutors' supervisor

September 18, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Thomas M. DiBiagio was sworn in yesterday as the U.S. attorney for Maryland in a brief ceremony at the federal courthouse in Baltimore.

The swearing-in of DiBiagio, a federal prosecutor in Baltimore for nine years before leaving last year to become a partner in a Washington law firm, was hastened because of last week's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.

He had been nominated for the post by President Bush on Sept. 5.

DiBiagio, 41, will serve as the U.S. Attorney General-appointed U.S. attorney until his confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

"Even though I'd been gone from the U.S. attorney's office for 18 months, the world had changed forever in those 18 months," DiBiagio said, reading from handwritten remarks. "As a result, the need for public service is very compelling, and the work the U.S. attorney's office does is very important."

DiBiagio added that he was "honored to be rejoining an office where the fidelity to public service is uncompromising and a place where the commitment to maintaining the fairness, integrity and public reputation of the criminal process remain fundamental even in times of great public emotion, grief and outrage."

In a brief interview yesterday afternoon, he declined to discuss how he spent his first official day on the job or what effect last week's terrorist attacks might have on his office's priorities.

"I can't comment and will not comment on any aspect of that case," he said. "I can't give you any description, any indication of what I'm doing."

DiBiagio supervises 65 prosecutors and an equal number of support staff in courthouses in Baltimore and Greenbelt.

He has previously said his priorities in the office would be the prosecution of white-collar crimes, public corruption cases and complex narcotics cases.

A resident of Parkton, DiBiagio succeeds Lynne A. Battaglia, who stepped down in January to take a seat on the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Stephen M. Schenning, Battaglia's top deputy, had been serving as acting U.S. attorney since January.

DiBiagio served as a federal prosecutor in Baltimore from 1991 until February, when he became a partner in the Washington firm of Dyer, Ellis and Joseph.

During his tenure as an assistant U.S. attorney, he prosecuted carjackings, bank robberies and cases involving violent drug gangs.

Before that, he was an associate at the Baltimore firm of Semmes, Bowen and Semmes.

He graduated in 1985 from the University of Richmond Law School and earned a bachelor's degree in international studies from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

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