New Detroit U.S. Attorney plans to keep fighting public corruption, gangs, and violent crime

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The new U.S. Attorney in Detroit plans to keep aggressively fighting corruption and violent crime in southeast Michigan.

7 Investigator Heather Catallo sat down with Matthew Schneider for an exclusive first television interview.

“It feels great to be back," Schneider said.

The newly appointed U.S. Attorney knows what it takes to put the bad guys away.  From 2003 to 2011, Schneider worked as a federal prosecutor in Detroit, taking on all kinds of crime. 

“I worked in gangs, guns, public corruption, drugs, narcotics; I worked terrorism cases for 8 years. And then I left, and now, I’m coming home,” Schneider told Catallo.

In his first full week on the job as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Schneider sat down with 7 Action News to highlight his priorities:  fighting violent crime and public corruption.

“People elect their officials and they expect they will work for them.  And when you have corrupt public officials, you’re not only getting what you did not bargain for at the ballot box, but it’s the theft of taxpayer funding,” said Schneider.

Even though Detroit’s homicide rate is decreasing, Schneider wants the feds to do more to help Detroit police curb the violence.

“That’s down now considerably, however if you look at the per capita – it’s not good enough.  The population of Detroit, it used to be about 2 million, and now it’s 675,000 or so.  Per capita murders, we could be doing a better job.   Chief Craig, Mayor Duggan – they’re working hard on it, and I think they’re doing an excellent job.  But this office will continue to be their partners in that,” said Schneider.

Schneider most recently was Michigan’s Chief Deputy Attorney General – and before that he was Chief Legal Counsel for the state of Michigan.  That means he represented the state and the Governor through Detroit’s historic bankruptcy.

“Detroit was really at a low point.  So, it’s personal to me to not only come back here after that, but to be part of that solution,” said Schneider.

The U.S. Attorney’s office doesn’t just prosecute accused criminals, they also protect civil rights.  Schneider said protecting civil rights and civil liberties will continue to be a high priority for them.

On January 3rd, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed 17 interim U.S. Attorneys, including Schneider, across the country to fill offices where ‘acting prosecutors’ had been in charge since President Trump took office. 

Also, last week, Sessions reversed an Obama-era rule that had discouraged federal prosecutors from spending resources on cases involving marijuana possession, even though many states are moving to legalize pot for both medical and recreational use.

“This office will review marijuana cases in terms of where those cases will fit within our priorities and our limited federal resources.  In every criminal case, we will rely upon the Justice Department’s long-established principles of federal prosecution as all U.S. Attorneys have done since 1980,” said Schneider.

If you have a story for Heather, please email her at hcatallo@wxyz.com or call 248-827-4473.

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