Criminal prosecutions have dropped dramatically in Minneapolis under the leadership of U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones, rankling some in law enforcement. A Minneapolis Star Tribune analysis of prosecutions in the past six fiscal years shows that significantly fewer people are being charged, especially in drug crimes. Drug suspects made up 60 percent of defendants charged under former U.S. Attorneys Thomas Heffelfinger and Rachel Paulose in 2006. Under Jones, they account for just 36 percent, and illustrate a major shift in the office’s priorities. Law enforcement sources said the U.S. Attorney’s office refused to prosecute drug and violent crime cases that would have been snapped up by Jones’ predecessors.
Jones is not surprised by the grumbling. Speaking from Washington, D.C., where he’s working a dual job as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he said some of it reflects a “hangover” of bad feeling between federal prosecutors and local law enforcement over an investigation of the now-disbanded Metro Gang Strike Force. Federal prosecutors are focusing on labor-intensive cases involving criminal organizations, complex white-collar crimes and international terrorism, as well as crimes that have exclusive federal jurisdiction such as bank robberies, Indian Country crimes and securities law violations. “If some elements in law enforcement disagree with that prosecutorial decision [ ] then I’m sorry,” Jones said. “The world’s changed, and we have different priorities.”