May 3, 2012

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Alumnus humble about breaking up large drug rings

Run Vincent Chiu’s name through a quick query on the Internet, and one will find headlines screaming with sensationalism.

“Convicted Felon Found Guilty of Drug and Weapons Charges in Case Involving a Machine Gun and Grenade Launcher”

“One Tampa and Four Orlando Area Men Charged with Selling ‘Cut’ for Cocaine and Heroin”

“Convicted Felon Sentenced to 15 years for Gun Possession”

Yet, the 2004 graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law is humble when it comes to discussing his work as an assistant United States attorney in Orlando. He declines to discuss the big cases he’s most proud of or those that were particularly challenging.

“We’ve been able to take cases where police officers have had a hard time for a long time trying to prosecute a certain group. Being able to deliver for them and come up with strategies for them to see the fruit of their work is rewarding,” Chiu said.

“Those people work hard. They work long nights. They’re sticking their necks out, and a lot of times that goes unnoticed. It’s nice to be able to take that and make a big case that has a greater impact.”

After graduating from Moritz, Vincent became an assistant prosecutor at the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. His cases often involved murders, robberies, sex offenses, and drugs. Vincent, who married classmate Alicia Chiu ’04 while in law school, would not have been able to take the job if he was facing massive student loan debt.

“I’ve always had an interest in public service to some degree. I managed to get ground-level experience with the prosecutor’s office,” he said.

After four years, Vincent and Alicia moved to Florida. As an assistant U.S. attorney, he works with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other federal agencies to prosecute child pornography, gangs, white-collar fraud, and large-scale drug trafficking operations. The latter involves cases with hundreds of kilograms of narcotics and bringing down entire drug organization networks as opposed to prosecuting the individual crack dealer on the street.

One such case resulted in the February 2011 arrests of five Florida men on charges of conspiracy to and aiding and abetting the manufacturing of cocaine and heroin and the selling of drug paraphernalia. Court documents allege the men ran head shops where they sold narcotics and equipment used to dilute cocaine and heroin to undercover agents and confidential informants.

Vincent is on the team prosecuting the case, and, if convicted on all counts, each defendant would face a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

“We’re able to make a big impact in both the local community and throughout the Southeast. Disrupting these drug organizations has a ripple effect, and that’s great,” Vincent said. “I’ve always been interested in protecting people from each other.”

This article was written by Monica DeMeglio.

SideBar is a monthly electronic newsletter for Moritz College of Law alumni. Questions regarding this publication should be directed to moritzlawnews@osu.edu.