ROANOKE (WSLS 10) – Our local federal prosecutor submits his resignation to President Obama, ahead of President-Elect Trump’s inauguration.
John Fishwick served as United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia for a little over a year. His last day on the job will be January 6.
Fishwick says serving as U.S. Attorney has been the greatest honor of his career, though he knew the honor had the potential to be short-lived. U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President. With the White House changing hands, Fishwick felt now was the best time to resign.
“I was recommended by Senators Kaine and Warner and nominated by President Barack Obama and my position is a presidential appointment,” said John Fishwick. “So there’s a new president, so he has the opportunity to make new appointments for these positions all over the country.”
Fishwick says he committed the last 365-plus days to crime prevention. One focus was getting students to sign a pledge against gun violence.
“We met with 15,000 students all across this part of the state and said to the students look, don’t use a gun to settle a score and don’t bring a gun to school,” said Fishwick.
Fishwick’s office hosted a screening of “Chasing the Dragon”, introducing the public to the life of an opiate addict, as part of a public effort to combat heroin addition.
“We want people to get the help they need so that they’re not addicted, so they’re not buying the poison from the drug dealer. So you can’t just prosecute your way out of that problem,” said Fishwick.
But prosecution was job number one. During his tenure Fishwick oversaw the convictions and sentencing of the gang members responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Waynesboro Reserve Police Captain Kevin Quick.
“I think in the last 12 months it’s the most important prosecution out of our office,” said Fishwick. “Anytime you have a gang that ultimately killed someone, robbed people, it’s a very, very important prosecution.”
Fishwick is returning to private practice. He says he will seek opportunities for public service, but will not say if that means he’ll run for elected office.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle will become acting U.S. Attorney.
The only political appointment is the top position. Federal civil servant protections mean everyone else in the office keeps their jobs when there is a change in power.