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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Ormsby names new top assistant in U.S. Attorney’s Office

Mike Ormsby has a new second-in-command at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Pamela DeRusha, who has served as the office’s chief civil attorney for the past decade, will take over as Ormsby’s first assistant as part of a reorganization prompted by chief criminal prosecutor Aine Ahmed stepping down from management, Ormsby said Wednesday.

“That necessitated us making some changes,” Ormsby said. “We’ve got a great management team. We’ll continue to have a great management team.”

Ormsby said it is the first time he’s changed the roles of top attorneys in his office since he was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

DeRusha is a 1980 graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law and has served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington since 1994. Her focus has been on civil matters. She previously served as president of the Spokane County Bar Association.

Ahmed will be replaced as chief criminal prosecutor by Ormsby’s former first assistant, Joe Harrington. Ahmed is stepping down from his management job after winning a jury’s guilty verdict on a federal murder-for-hire indictment against James Henrikson in a decision handed down last week.

Ormsby declined to comment on the reason for Ahmed’s decision to step down. Ahmed has served as criminal chief in the office since April 2012.

Harrington’s resume includes trying the case of Kevin Harpham, the man convicted of plotting to bomb Spokane’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in 2011.

DeRusha will be replaced as chief civil attorney by Tim Durkin. Durkin served on the prosecution team that handled the case against former Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson, who was convicted of civil rights violations in the 2006 death of Otto Zehm. Thompson was released from federal prison last week.

DeRusha’s promotion comes as Ormsby’s office fights allegations of gender discrimination by another former manager. Katherine Bolton, who goes by her middle name Jill, sued the Justice Department in October, alleging she received less in bonus payments than her male co-workers and had her authority undermined by male colleagues. Ormsby’s office, through outside counsel, has denied those allegations.

Ormsby declined to comment on whether there was any connection between Bolton’s allegations and the management reorganization. But he said, “nothing should be read into this,” saying reorganization is routine in U.S. attorney’s offices nationwide.

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