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Feinstein Recommends Mayorkas for U.S. Attorney in L.A.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has recommended to President Clinton that he nominate Alejandro Mayorkas, a 10-year veteran prosecutor, to become the next U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, The Times has learned.

If Clinton nominates him, which is highly likely, and the Senate approves, Mayorkas would become the top federal law enforcement official in seven Southern California counties from Riverside to San Luis Obispo.

Mayorkas, 38, is in line to succeed Nora Manella, who is awaiting Senate confirmation of her nomination to become a federal judge.

His closest rival in the selection process was his boss, Chief Assistant U.S. Atty. Richard E. Drooyan, second-in-command of the prosecutor’s office.

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Sources said the Cuban-born Mayorkas has strong support for the post within the Latino political community.

In a letter to Clinton dated Oct. 1, Feinstein said Mayorkas, who serves as chief of the general crimes section in the U.S. attorney’s office, also enjoys widespread support in the legal and law enforcement communities.

She said he also had received strong endorsements from several members of Congress in the Los Angeles area.

Mayorkas, she said, “has the strength of character and the vision to be an outstanding leader as U.S. attorney. He will be a strong administrator and manager who will train new prosecutors exceptionally well while he also sees that the office aggressively seeks convictions in all cases possible.”

Mayorkas called his selection a “tremendous honor.” He said it was premature to discuss any plans for changes in the office, which employs about 240 criminal and civil lawyers and is rivaled only by New York in size and prestige.

Drooyan said he was disappointed but wished Mayorkas well. He said he is considering his options, but has no definite plans to leave.

Bidding for the job got underway earlier this year when Manella was nominated for a federal judgeship.

Under a power-sharing agreement with the state’s other Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer, Feinstein recommends the U.S. attorneys in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and Boxer recommends the ones in San Francisco and San Diego.

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Although it is now up to Clinton to send Mayorkas’ nomination to the Senate, that will not happen until the Senate clears Manella’s appointment to the federal bench.

And if Mayorkas is confirmed, he could be out of a job in January 2001 when the next president takes office and has a chance to replace all U.S. attorneys in the country.

Mayorkas came to the United States with his family in 1960, a year after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba.

He earned an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, a law degree from Loyola Law School, and practiced at the firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler until he joined the U.S. attorney’s office in 1989.

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As a prosecutor in the major frauds section, he earned commendations for his role in Operation Polar Cap, one of the largest money-laundering cases in history, and for his work as coordinator of the Southern California Boiler Room Task Force, which investigates consumer fraud.


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