Outgoing U.S. attorney: Opioid crisis forced record number of Dayton cases

Dayton’s opioid crisis forced federal prosecutors to file a record number of criminal cases in the city in the past two or three years, one reason why the outgoing U.S. attorney feels that the tide is starting to turn in that battle.

“I don’t know if it has been reported publicly anywhere or not,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman, who will resign effective Nov. 1, his office announced Monday.

“In terms of criminal cases filed out of Dayton, the numbers in the past two years at least and perhaps three are record-breaking,” Glassman said in a parting phone interview. “We have never pursued as many criminal cases out of the Dayton seat of court as we have over the last two years.”

TODAYUS Attorney Glassman to resign

The opioid epidemic is the reason for that record number, he said. And while he did not offer precise prosecution numbers Monday, Glassman did say he believes the tide is turning in that battle, telling the Dayton Daily News: “I am an optimist.”

“We have absolutely been busier than ever in the Dayton area,” he said. “We have devoted very substantial resources even within our office to Dayton.”

He said he hired five new prosecutors for the Southern District of Ohio’s Dayton office since he began his time in that position in 2016. His first assistant, Vipal Patel, is resident in the Dayton office and has handled many prosecutions himself.

In August, President Trump nominated David DeVillers as the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio – a pick backed by Ohio U.S. senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown. DeVillers is a current and long-time assistant U.S. attorney in the office.

DeVillers, 53, is known for leading major gang and organized crime investigations. A spokeswoman for the office said Monday the office expects to swear-in DeVillers Nov. 1.

Glassman said he will assist DeVillers in the transition. He declined comment on immediate future plans beyond that, but said public service may have a place in his future.

“It has been a great joy for me to serve the public,” Glassman said. “It means a lot to me.”

In the past, he has likened the war against opioids and other drugs to a “three-legged stool,” consisting of prevention, criminal prosecutions where appropriate and treatment. Fatal overdoses are down, he observed.

“From where I stand, I do believe we are turning the tide of the opioid crisis,” Glassman said. “It is obviously not only a matter of enforcement.”

However, he added that he is wary of what he called a “stimulant crisis” replacing this opioid crisis. He warned of cocaine and methamphetamines being distributed to the Miami Valley, often mixed with Fentanyl and other potent analogs.

“We have to make sure that we’re not just swapping problems,” he said.

Among his many Dayton-area cases: Glassman, 44, may be remembered locally as playing a role in a federal corruption investigation into three former local politicians and a businessman.

In April, at the time the case was unveiled, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Deters said Dayton was caught up in a “culture of corruption” and joined colleagues in saying the investigation was ongoing and likely to produce more arrests.

“That investigation remains open and ongoing and I anticipate will remain so regardless of the identity of the U.S. attorney,” Glassman said Monday.

The first trial of an international terrorism case in the history of Ohio, in December, is also part of Glassman’s record.

Laith Waleed Alebbini, 28, of Dayton, was convicted in December for attempting and conspiring to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl offered praise for Glassman in a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

“We will miss his great skill and dedication that has been of such great service to our community and the Miami Valley region,” the chief said.

Glassman is a graduate of Rice University and Harvard Law School. He joined the U.S. attorney’s office in 2005, becoming acting U.S. attorney in March 2016. He has served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio since his appointment to that position by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in October 2016.

Current data show that both fatal overdoses and violent crime in the district are declining, his office said.

In late September, Glassman and his colleagues announced what they said was the disruption of a significant Dayton-based narcotics ring. At the time, they announced charges against 19 people in an alleged trafficking conspiracy that distributed kilogram-quantities of deadly Fentanyl and other drugs across Southwestern Ohio and other states.

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