U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. in Washington, D.C., will step down April 1 and return to private practice, ending a tenure that has made him the longest-serving chief federal prosecutor in the capital in nearly four decades, reports the Washington Post. Machen oversaw a steady expansion of the U.S. Attorney's Office's reach into national security and financial fraud cases in his five years in office, and he devoted significant new resources to pursuing cold cases and potential wrongful convictions.
His reign was dominated by the aggressive pursuit of local public corruption, leading to the convictions of dozens of government officials and employees, including three former D.C. Council members. His legacy remains uncertain, as his top target, former mayor Vincent C. Gray, remains uncharged after four-year investigation. Council member Mary Cheh said Machen's record will be “forever marred” by his handling of the mayor. “It's one thing to have somebody under investigation and pursue matters diligently, but it's quite another, I think, to allow a cloud like that to exist for years,” said Cheh, who is also a llaw professor of criminal at George Washington University. Machen's top assistant, Vincent Cohen Jr., has served as the point person in coordinating the probe and will take over as acting U.S. attorney.