The federal prosecutor in western Washington State says his office is “stressed to the limit” because of years of budget cuts that threaten to slow the pace of criminal prosecutions, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. U.S. Attorney John McKay told county prosecutors and agents in charge of federal law enforcement agencies that, “We may not be as responsive as you want us to be on the cases you refer to us.” The U.S. Attorney’s office is down six criminal prosecutors and one civil attorney, leaving 58 assistant U.S. attorneys, McKay said.
Cases that might have been prosecuted under tougher federal laws increasingly are being sent to local prosecutors. A bigger budget would mean more cases in problem areas like cybercrime, said prosecutor Mark Bartlett. “You’d see more cases like ‘botnet,’ ” he said, referring to the prosecution of a California man who infected thousands of computers around the world for personal profit. “You’d see more collaboration with Microsoft and other intellectual-property firms where piracy is a huge concern.” McKay is declining 80 percent of border cases that could be prosecuted in federal court. “We try to flip people by putting them through federal prosecution,” said McKay, using a term for persuading criminals to cooperate in return for a lighter sentence. “We don’t have that flexibility right now.”