- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said Tuesday that he is stepping down as North Dakota’s top federal prosecutor to return to private practice.

Purdon, 46, said he’s proud of the way his office has tackled crime during a period of unprecedented population and economic growth, including improving safety on American Indian reservations and taking on crime in the state’s oil patch, where organized gangs, human traffickers and drug dealers are rife.

“No previous U.S. attorney has had to deal with the idea that we have a huge increase in drug trafficking and human trafficking in Dickinson and Williston and Stanley and Watford City,” Purdon said. “Nobody’s ever had to face that challenge before.”

He said things are not yet perfect. “But are they better today than they were four and a half years ago when I came into office? I think they are.”

He said he’ll be establishing an office in Bismarck for a national law firm, but that he could not yet name the company.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that Purdon’s anti-violence strategy for state tribal lands is a model for national success. Holder appointed Purdon to serve as chair of the Justice Department’s Native America Issues Subcommittee, which includes 30 U.S. attorneys whose districts include tribal lands.

“Tim has distinguished himself as a skilled attorney and a consummate public servant, rising to challenges as diverse as human trafficking, violent crime, drug trafficking and fraud,” Holder said.

Federal prosecutions in the western half of North Dakota nearly tripled in Purdon’s tenure, due primarily to an increase in drug trafficking, some involving out-of-state gangs.

“I never wanted to have a signature case,” Purdon said. “My signature here is all the improvements we’ve made to make all of North Dakota safer. I’m extremely proud of my office.”

Purdon’s last day as North Dakota’s 18th U.S. attorney is scheduled to be March 12. Assistant federal prosecutor Chris Myers will take over as acting U.S. attorney for North Dakota.

Purdon, an Oakes native, received an associate degree in liberal arts from the North Dakota State College of Science in 1989. He went on to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1991. He attended law school at Hamline. He began practicing law with the Vogel Law Firm in Bismarck in 1995, specializing in criminal defense, personal injury and consumer fraud.

President Barack Obama nominated Purdon to the post of U.S. attorney on Feb. 4, 2010, and the Senate confirmed him on Aug. 5, 2010.

“This is the best job a lawyer can have,” Purdon said. “It has been a great run. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have no regrets.”

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