U.S. Attorney Richard Roper is stepping down as the top federal prosecutor in North Texas to become a senior partner at a Dallas-based law firm where he will handle white-collar fraud and corporate investigation cases.
A Fort Worth native, Roper will work in Thompson & Knight's Fort Worth and Dallas offices. A firm with about 400 attorneys, the law firm has offices across Texas and in New York as well as in Mexico and overseas.
Roper, 51, has served as U.S. Attorney since 2004, but he has worked as a federal prosecutor since 1987. He previously had worked at the Tarrant County district attorney's office.
"It is going to be difficult," Roper said of transitioning to a job in the private sector. "I've been a prosecutor for 26 years. But I see it as a great challenge."
First Assistant U.S. Attorney James Jacks will be appointed the acting lead prosecutor until a replacement is named.
Federal prosecutors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As a result, when Barack Obama moves into the Oval Office, he will appoint a new prosecutor for the 100-county North Texas district.
Since Roper became U.S. attorney, his office has handled several high-profile cases, including the November convictions of five leaders of the Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
The men were convicted of giving more than $12 million through Holy Land to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the government, making any donation to it illegal even if the money went to support schools, hospitals and social welfare programs.
Roper's office also indicted 14 current and former public officials and their associates as part of a Dallas City Hall corruption case. Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, another former council member and city planner as well as state Rep. Terri Hodge, D-Dallas, were linked to a kickback and bribery scheme involving contracts to white developers on affordable housing, mostly in black neighborhoods.
"I am proud to have led the talented and dedicated professionals in this office representing the United States and reducing crime in North Texas," Roper said.
Roper succeeded Jane Boyle, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to be a federal district judge. Terri Moore, top assistant to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, worked with Roper as a federal prosecutor and when he was a Tarrant County prosecutor. She described him as a "good hand."
"I don't have anything but good to say," said Moore, who is considered to be a leading candidate to replace him as U.S. attorney. "With the knowledge of white-collar crime that he has, and the contacts he's made, he will be nothing but an asset to Thompson & Knight or to anyone else for that matter."
Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Mark Daniel also praised Roper.
"I've known Richard for 28 years and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will say anything negative about Richard Roper. He is a top-drawer guy."
Roper began his career in the Tarrant County prosecutor's office after graduating from Texas Tech University School of Law in 1982. He got his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas in Arlington. He is a 1975 graduate of Southwest High School.