Top federal prosecutor has deep ties to Groton

John H. Durham, a federal prosecutor from Groton who is best known for making cases against mobsters, has been appointed interim U.S. Attorney for Connecticut.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions signed an order appointing Durham as the interim U.S. attorney, and Durham was sworn in Friday by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven. It was the last day of work for outgoing U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daily, an Obama administration appointee who was allowed to stay until she had reached the 20 years of service required for retirement.

The 67-year-old Durham has deep ties to the Town of Groton. He is the son of the late Patricia Kelley Durham and Henry "Hank" F. Durham, longtime residents of Mumford Cove prior to their deaths in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Durham is a graduate of the Class of 1968 of the Robert E. Fitch Sr. High School. He had been living in Madison until recently, but moved back to Groton in September and registered to vote as a Republican, according to town records.

Members of the legal community predict President Donald Trump will nominate Durham to fill the position on a permanent basis.

The news that Durham would be, for now, acting as the top federal prosecutor was welcome.

"I think he'll be excellent," said Chief State's Attorney Kevin T. Kane, who has worked with Durham over the years on cold case homicides and other cases. "He's certainly the most experienced prosecutor who's ever served in that position."

"He's very collegial and very willing and eager to work with state, local and federal law enforcement," Kane said. "He truly is a dedicated prosecutor."

John Durham received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University in 1972 and graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1975.

He worked as a Vista Volunteer for two years on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, where he provided legal services to the Crow Tribe concerning land use and mineral resource problems.

His career as a prosecutor started with the State of Connecticut. He worked for the Office of the Chief State's Attorney for a year and was an assistant state's attorney in New Haven from 1978 to 1982.

Durham's son, attorney Reed Durham, is currently a state prosecutor. The son started his career in the Tolland Judicial District and works in the cold case bureau of the Chief State's Attorney's Office, according to Kane.

Durham left state service in 1982 to join the Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, working for the Boston Strike Force's field office in New Haven.

He supervised the New Haven field office from June 1987 until September 1989, prosecuting members of the Gambino, Genovese and Patriarca crime families and their associates.

Since January 1999, he has served as a special attorney in the District of Massachusetts. He was the head of a  task force that reviewed FBI and law enforcement corruption in the case involving Whitey Bulger and associates.

Since 1994, he has served as deputy U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, supervising all assistant U.S. attorneys in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. The U.S. Attorney's Office is charged with enforcing federal criminal laws in Connecticut and representing the federal government in civil litigation. The office is composed of 66 assistant U.S. attorneys and 46 staff members.

k.florin@theday.com

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