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U.S. attorney field now at 3
One lacks experience as a federal prosecutor.
By CARRIE WEIMAR
Published July 11, 2007
ORLANDO - A Harvard Divinity School graduate, a veteran prosecutor and a former Marine Corps pilot are the three finalists to be the next U.S. attorney for Central Florida.
After a day of interviews, the 16-member judicial nominating commission selected A. Brian Albritton, Dennis Moore and F.T. "Frank" Williams.
The names now go to Republican Sen. Mel Martinez and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who will make a recommendation to the White House for approval.
The person selected will replace Paul Perez as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, a $145,000-a-year position that oversees offices in Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and Ocala. Perez announced in March that he was retiring.
Albritton, 50, a criminal defense lawyer for Holland & Knight in Tampa, was the only applicant interviewed who had not been a federal prosecutor. Moore, 59, has been one for 27 years. Williams, 45, is an assistant U.S. attorney in Gainesville.
Other candidates included Ken Lawson, 42, a former federal prosecutor who has also served as an assistant treasury secretary; Adelaide Few, 69, a veteran federal prosecutor from the Tampa division; and LaTour "LT" Lafferty, 40, a former federal prosecutor who works for Fowler White in Tampa.
A seventh finalist, Cynthia Hawkins, an assistant U.S. attorney from Orlando, dropped out before the interviews.
The opening drew a lackluster response at first, drawing just one application by the May 15 deadline. Commissioners extended it and received 15 applications in all.
The commission narrowed the field to seven before Tuesday's interviews. Each applicant was quizzed for about 30 minutes regarding resumes, legal training, strengths and weaknesses as leaders and their ideas about the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Of the candidates, Williams had the most diverse background. He originally wanted to be an astronaut and graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in aerospace engineering.
He joined the Marines after graduation. But his dream took a detour when he visited a federal courtroom during a trip to Washington, D.C.
"It truly was a life-changing experience," said Williams, 45.
He took a job in St. Petersburg as a math teacher and waited tables to save money for law school. He graduated from Florida State University. In his spare time, he said, he hunts alligators.
Before going to law school at Boston College, Albritton graduated from Harvard Divinity School and spent two years counseling runaway children.
He said he thought the U.S. Attorney's Office would benefit from an outsider's perspective. He took aim at the unsuccessful prosecution of Steve and Marlene Aisenberg after the disappearance of their baby girl.
"I think that took away from the shine of the office," he said.
He would make economic crimes a priority.
Moore, 59, joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C., in 1980.
"From the first day I had that job, I fell in love with it," he said.
Moore moved to Florida in 1984 and prosecuted both civil and criminal cases in the Tampa division. He retired last week.
Commissioners questioned why he would want such a high-stress job after retiring.
"I'll tell you what," he said. "There's not another job in the world that would have brought me out of retirement."