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Flipping criminals, wiretaps part of prosecution work

February 7, 2013 | Alumni

After eight years of dabbling in cases centered on money laundering, drug trafficking, and alien and arms smuggling on the Texas-Mexico border, Robert Brady ’97 said he was looking to relocate to somewhere more picturesque for a family, somewhere “a bit more cosmopolitan,” to be exact.

Instead, he got narcotics and wiretaps.

The assistant U.S. attorney, who formerly served as the chief of the Del Rio Division in the Western District of Texas, has been settled into his new office in Miami, Fla., for about a year now, where he works for the Southern District of Florida in the Narcotics Division.

And while Brady said Miami does offer the family atmosphere he desired for his 2-year-old and 7-year-old, he can’t seem to stop recognizing the differences from Texas.

“There’s definitely a different vibe down here in the Miami area than, say, West Texas,” Brady said. “It’s a pretty hectic pace here. I was busy on the border, but because Miami is a big city … I’m doing certain things here that I didn’t do on the border.”

Exclusively prosecuting narcotics cases now, Brady said his experience on the border gave him a leg up in dealing with cases in Miami.

“When you’re in a border U.S. Attorney’s Office, the caseload is predominantly immigration and narcotics. We bordered Mexico, and, of course, the cartels’ livelihood largely involved importing narcotics – marijuana, cocaine, or, increasingly, methamphetamine – into the United States,” Brady said. “We were basically on the frontline of that activity, and dealt with the brunt of what crossed our borders.”

Drug-trafficking and alien-smuggling prosecutions, he said, were some of his favorite cases to handle while in Texas and often followed a certain pattern of events – on occasion, lower-level members of the criminal organization, such as drug couriers or alien smugglers, would cooperate with the government and “flip,” identifying higher-level operatives in the organization. Prosecutors, such as Brady, would then seek to indict and convict those individuals.

Cases in Miami, he said, unfold through similar as well as different methods. Brady said he now more often uses “T-IIIs,” or wiretaps, to intercept phone communications of narcotics dealers in order to use that as evidence to build a case.

Brady also said although he credits his work on the border for preparing him to work specifically in narcotics, his service in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) was what initially readied him to work as an assistant U.S. attorney. Working in a law firm never appealed to him, and Brady said the JAG Corps was an appropriate outlet for him after graduating from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

He served active duty for five and a half years. In that time, he was first assigned to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, for two years as a prosecutor and later assigned to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where he served as a prosecutor and ultimately as an Area Defense Counsel (ADC), which he described as the rough equivalent of a military public defender.

“I always wanted to work for the Justice Department in some fashion,” said Brady, who is now in the Reserve. “The JAG definitely did prepare me.”

Having somewhat found his niche in the department, Brady added he’s now content with his Miami lifestyle – even if it does lack four seasons and is more expensive than both Texas and the Midwest.

“I was on the border in a remote location for a long time. I wanted to go someplace that tended to offer a bit more than a remote area could in terms of museums, schools – something a bit more cosmopolitan than the border could provide,” he said. “I intend to stay with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the foreseeable future.”

This article was written by Sarah Pfledderer.