MARQUETTE - New U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Patrick Miles Jr wants to ramp up his office's efforts on preventing and prosecuting health care fraud, official corruption cases and enforcing federal civil rights laws.
"It's something that ... I have a passion for, but also it's something the office has not emphasized to the degree that I would like it to," Miles said on his visit to Marquette on Friday. "(Health care fraud includes) people looking for government reimbursement - through Medicare, typically - illegally, whether it's a healthcare provider, there's a whole variety. You'll see people try to game the system and it hurts taxpayers and the public."
Miles - who is based out of Grand Rapids - spent the week traveling across his district during the annual tribal tour, when the U.S. attorney visits all tribes within the district he represents. The federal government has legal jurisdiction on tribal lands.
Miles' district includes 11 federally recognized tribes, five of which are in the Upper Peninsula.
"The tour went great," Miles said. "We had great meetings with each of the tribes. They were very welcoming and hospitable. We want to continue the good relationships that we have with each of them and the spirit of cooperation and collaboration."
Miles, who was appointed to the position in July, said he was thrilled to serve his country in his new capacity.
"It's a great opportunity to serve the people, and to pursue justice," Miles said of his appointment. "There really, for an attorney, is no higher calling than to pursue justice on behalf of the United States of America."
Miles said he will work to ensure more cooperation between all levels of the criminal justice system in the form of task forces organized to help prevent and prosecute specific crimes.
"You can prevent crimes through education, through community outreach and deterrence," Miles said. "We can be proactive in prosecuting cases by working with our federal law enforcement partners as well as local law enforcement and local neighborhoods and community groups to be at the grass roots level to discover and prosecute violations. ... Something I want to do is have more task forces working collaboratively with others and communities to both prosecute and prevent crime."
Miles was born and raised in the Grand Rapids area and graduated from high school at 16. He received a degree in business administration and economics from Aquinas College before getting his law degree from Harvard Law School, where he was also editor-in-chief of the "Harvard Law Record."
Miles then returned to Grand Rapids, where, at 29, he became the first African-American to become a partner in the 110 year history of his firm, Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlet. While there, Miles represented a number of U.P. cities, including in the Marquette area, as he served as the firms special counsel on telecommunications.
Miles is also the first African-American to serve as the U.S. Attorney for Michigan's Western District, which covers 49 of the state's 83 counties.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is email@example.com.