Trump-appointed federal prosecutor in NC resigns at President Biden’s request

U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin announced Monday he will step down Feb 28 as the top prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of North Carolina.

Martin is the last of the three heads of U.S. Attorney’s Offices in North Carolina appointed by former President Donald Trump to announce his resignation. Robert Higdon of the Eastern District was the first to announce he is stepping down. Andrew Murray of the Western District announced his resignation last week.

“I thank the Assistant U.S. Attorneys and our staff, as well as every federal, state, and local law enforcement agency serving central North Carolina,” Martin said in a news release. “Though I am leaving this role, I look forward to serving our state and nation alongside you in the future.”

Martin’s district covers 24 counties in central North Carolina, including counties in the Triad region, as well as Durham and Orange counties.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Hairston will serve as the district’s acting U.S. Attorney until President Joe Biden nominates and the U.S. Senate confirms Martin’s successor, the release stated.

Former attorney for Duke Energy

Martin was sworn into office in 2018, after working as associate general counsel for Duke Energy. Martin will return to private law practice after he leaves office, he wrote in the news release.

Biden’s Department of Justice asked 56 U.S. Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorneys of the country’s 93 top federal prosecutors to resign earlier this month, CNN reported.

The shuffling of top federal prosecutors is a routine part of the transfer of power. When Trump came into office, his administration asked 46 U.S. Attorneys to resign, CNN reported. Martin’s predecessor, Ripley Rand, who was sworn in after former President Barack Obama appointed him in 2011, resigned in January 2017, just before Trump’s inauguration, the Triad Business Journal reported.

Martin has prosecuted several high-profile cases. His office has prosecuted people accused of gang violence in Durham, including the people accused in the death of 9-year-old Z’yon Person in 2019 and restaurant owner Hong Zheng, 42, who was killed in his Durham driveway during an attempted robbery in 2018.

His office also prosecuted an alleged drug conspiracy at colleges including Duke University, UNC and Appalachian State University. 21 students were charged with running a drug ring, moving thousands of pounds of marijuana, hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, LSD, Molly, mushrooms, steroids, Xanax and other narcotics through “very sophisticated methods,” Martin said.

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Ashad Hajela reports on public safety for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He studied journalism at New York University.


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