Incumbent United States Attorney David Michael Hurst, Jr. of the Southern District of Mississippi announced the changes to be made in the Office in line with his upcoming resignation. Darren J. LaMarca, First Assistant United States Attorney to U.S. Attorney Hurst, is declared to take over in the Office as Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, effective January 20, 2021.
Table of Contents
- Appointment and Resignation of U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst
- Legal Career and Educational Background of U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst
- Legal Career and Educational Background of First Assistant United States Attorney Darren LaMarca
- Statements from U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca
- Accomplishments in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi in the Past Three Years
- Criminal Division
- Civil Division
- Administrative Division
Appointment and Resignation of U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst was nominated by President Donald Trump on June 29, 2017, and was confirmed into the position by the U.S. Senate on October 3, 2017. He served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi beginning on October 10, 2017, and is officially stepping down after approximately four years of service on January 19, 2021.
Legal Career and Educational Background of U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst
Chief Federal Prosecutor Mike Hurst comes with a depth of experience. He began his legal career as an Associate at the Troutman Sanders, L.L.P. in 2000. He worked in the firm for three years before joining the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitution Subcommittee as a Counsel. Later on, his pursuit for politics intensified as he became a Legislative Director and Counsel to former Congressman Chip Pickering from the end of 2003 to 2006. In this capacity, U.S. Attorney Hurst delivered several legislative drafting services on an impartial and confidential basis that helped implement policy references of the former Congressman’s Representative using legally effective legislative language. Following his three-year service to the former Congressman Pickering, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District and began his almost eight-year service as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Office. Throughout this time, he managed to prosecute a variety of federal criminal matters and civil litigations, serving as a principal federal litigator in the Office. In 2015, U.S. Attorney Hurst ran a Republican Candidate for Mississippi Attorney General; however, he lost to the Democratic candidate Jim Hood. In the next year, he became a Director in the Mississippi Justice Institute General; moreover, U.S. Attorney Hurst also once served as a General Counsel in the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, prior to being appointed as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.
Earning his degree in Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Government, U.S. Attorney Hurst graduated from Millsaps College in 1997 and subsequently received his Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University Law School in 2000 he attended and graduated from the East Central Community College.
Under the Vacancies Reform Act 5 U.S.C. § 3345(a)(1), Darren J. LaMarca will automatically begin to serve as the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi following the resignation of U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.
Legal Career and Educational Background of First Assistant United States Attorney Darren LaMarca
Beginning his legal career as a Law Clerk, Acting U.S. Attorney LaMarca served under the Honorable Roy Noble Lee of the Supreme Court of Mississippi in 1986. After his clerkship, he began working in private practice and joined a law firm in Jackson, Mississippi as a prosecutor, serving in the position for approximately four years. Eventually, Acting U.S. Attorney LaMarca moved to the City of Clinton and launched his law firm. While managing his own firm, he also served as a Municipal Court Judge of Clinton’s City for approximately five years, from 2002 to 2007. Prior to becoming the First Assistant United States Attorney to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Darren LaMarca held several leadership roles in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi. He was once appointed as a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and then as the Chief of the Criminal Division.
Acting United States Attorney Darren J. LaMarca is a graduate of the Northeast Louisiana University and of the Mississippi College School of Law, from where he earned his Juris Doctorate.
Statements from U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca
Darren LaMarca will bring wisdom, as well as decades of experience, to the position of Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, said U.S. Attorney Hurst. He further claimed that LaMarca would serve in the post as a dedicated public servant with honor, integrity, and distinction. In addition, he expressed his gratitude towards, now Acting United States Attorney, LaMarca, for being a wise counsel. “He will do an incredible job for our citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.
First Assistant United States Attorney LaMarca also expressed his thanks to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and showed relentless pursuit of justice throughout their partnership as first and second in command in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. LaMarca also asserted that the Office would continue as led by U.S. Attorney Hurst until a new presidentially appointed United States Attorney is confirmed by the Senate.
Accomplishments in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi in the Past Three Years
Throughout their three years of partnership as U.S. Attorney and First Assistant, Mike Hurst and Darren LaMarca have achieved many accomplishments for the Office of the United States Attorney of the Southern District of Mississippi and its constituents. Under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Hurst, the Office persistently pursued safety and justice for the district by creating safer neighborhoods, engaging in and empowering the communities and its citizens, supporting law enforcement agencies and officers, preventing and reducing crime, protecting victims, and upholding constitutional rights. Mike Hurst owes the success of the Office to the hardworking and tenacious people of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.
Together, U.S. Attorney Hurst and First Assistant LaMarca have done a great job in the Office. The Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi was able to be the nation’s first in rank in the Fiscal Year 2019 for indictments by medium-size offices. The Office has also received the title for most federal indictments and most federal defendants to be ever prosecuted within a year in the history of Mississippi. From 188 cases indicted in the Fiscal Year 2016, U.S. Attorney Hurst led the Office to increase the number of prosecutions by the Fiscal Year 2019 to 522 indictments, demonstrating a 178% increase in the number of charges from three years prior. The 522 prosecutions encompassed 642 federal defendants, a record in the history of the State of Mississippi.
Included in the improvements made in the Criminal Division of the Office is the implementation of Project EJECT – ‘Empower Justice Expel Crime Together.’ In December of 2017, the initiative was launched under the programs of the United States Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (P.S.N.) and Project Guardian. Along with Project EJECT, these initiatives are a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime through prosecution, prevention, re-entry, and awareness. In the first year of Project EJECT in Jackson, the overall violent crime fell by 7%, with a reduction of about 50% in the number of carjacking crimes alone. With this, there was a reported decrease of 108 fewer violent crime victims in the City of Jackson in the Fiscal Year 2018. The ground-breaking, collaborative, and innovative initiative that is the Project EJECT was recognized and awarded with the Outstanding Overall Partnership/Task Forces by the U.S. Department of Justice in December of 2018, which happened to be one out of only two of the aforementioned award given that year.
In June of 2018, a six-week-long initiative was held by U.S. Attorney Hurst, collaborating with U.S. Marshals Service’s Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, in an effort to reduce violence in the Southern District of Mississippi. The initiative is known as ‘Operation Triple Beam, which resulted in the arrest of 270 individuals who have been involved in various crimes, particularly with illegal possession of firearms, narcotics, and gang-related violence. Through the Operation Triple Beam, 300 sex offenders have also been checked for compliance, which resulted in the arrest of 20 individuals for sex offender registry violations. As led by U.S. Attorney Hurst, this initiative is believed to be one of the most successful of its scale that has ever been accomplished since the beginning of the Operation Triple Beam in 2010.
In an effort to address domestic violence, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst launched a new initiative entitled “Operation Pheonecia,” in honor of a local victim of domestic violence, Pheonecia Ratliff of Canton, Mississippi. The program allows the investigation and prosecution of federal domestic violence crimes to be made a priority, with the aid of law enforcement agencies, as well as nonprofit entities. The goal of Operation Pheonecia is to spread awareness and educate law enforcement officials in the reporting and handling of domestic violence cases, and ultimately, to reduce domestic violence, save lives, and assist victims. The Criminal Division has also worked on combating human trafficking, targeting drug trafficking, prosecuting immigration cases, as well as handling fraud and public corruption.
In the Civil Division of the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, several developments were made with a focus on free speech, first amendment, and religious liberties, as well as providing protection to the military and service members of the district. In November of 2017, the Office’s Civil Division has handled one of the largest healthcare fraud settlements in the history of the Southern District of Mississippi that involved a nursing home facility. The lawsuit resulted in a $1.25 million settlement to resolve the allegations against Medicare and the Mississippi Medicaid program, who allegedly provided substandard care to the residents at the Oxford Health and Rehabilitation nursing home.
Another case that the Office has handled is one of the largest False Claims Act healthcare settlements in Mississippi’s history. In December of 2017, the Region 8 Mental Health Services was made to pay the United States about $6.93 million in excess, under the False Claims Act as a settlement with regards to allegations that Region 8 has either provided substandard services or has not provided services that have been paid for as a part of its preschool Day Treatment program.
Apart from being able to accomplish more than has ever been done in the history of the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, the Administrative Division was able to report over 1.7 million dollars of saved taxpayers’ money for the past three years and has returned said funds to the Department of Justice.