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Kennedy named interim U.S. Attorney for WNY

U.S. Atorney's office

There is a new man in charge of the U.S. Attorney operation in Western New York. James P. Kennedy is acting in the post until a new president appoints a successor to William Hochul.

Kennedy, a Hamilton College and University at Buffalo Law School graduate, has worked his way up from a law assistant to top judge to the new post, with 24 years in the federal law office. Hochul left Monday to be general counsel to Delaware North.

Kennedy shared some thoughts following the announcement of his appointment.

"Much of what our office does is defined by the fact that we are a border office and the threat of terrorism remains very real and it's something that remains our number one priority," Kennedy said.

The office handles federal civil and criminal matters in 17 counties of Western New York, in Buffalo and in the Rochester office.

A native of Grand Island, Kennedy says he tried to remain active in court proceedings as he has worked his way up the administrative ladder.

"I did keep a few cases during the time that I was the first assistant because, frankly, that is a very fun part of the job and it's also, I think, important to maintain communications and involvement in the criminal process and in order to do that, I did keep a couple cases," he says.

Kennedy was first assistant for six years, privy to almost everything handled by the office. He also praised his retiring boss.

"We have succeeded under Mr. Hochul's leadership and in his administration to fill essentially all the positions that we lost during sequestration," Kennedy says. "So we're up and running at full speed and really looking forward to taking the helm and leading the office."

Following law school, Kennedy worked as the Confidential Law Assistant to New York Appellate Justices Michael Dillon and Dolores Denman.  In 1992, he was hired by then U.S. Attorney Dennis Vacco to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

In 2004, then U.S. Attorney Michael Battle picked Kennedy to serve as the district’s first full-time Appellate Chief, as which he argued a number of cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City. Two years later he became the Chief of the White Collar General Crimes unit and then promoted in 2007 to Criminal Chief for the district.

In April 2010, Kennedy was selected by William Hochul to be First Assistant U.S. Attorney. During his tenure in the office, Kennedy has received numerous awards and honors, including the Attorney’s General’s John Marshall Award, one of the Department of Justice’s highest awards.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.