Dallas US attorney Erin Nealy Cox announced on Thursday that she was stepping down after serving three years as the region’s chief federal attorney.
Nealy Cox, a cybersecurity expert and former federal attorney in Dallas, was sworn in after being nominated by President Donald Trump in November 2017.
As a U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, she was responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in an area that includes approximately 8 million people in 100 counties in north and west Texas.
Her office with around 120 lawyers in five regional locations is also responsible for civil litigation in which the government is involved.
Her last day in office is January 8th. Thereafter, the first US assistant attorney, Prerak Shah, will be appointed acting US attorney.
“Serving as the United States attorney has been the privilege of a lifetime,” she said in a statement. “Representing our nation is a tremendous responsibility – one I have tried to assume with integrity and accountability to the rule of law.”
Nealy Cox was also chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Board, which was made up of federal attorneys who advised the AG on political and operational issues.
She was co-chair of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Violent Anti-Government Extremism and a member of the Justice Department’s Task Force on Religious Freedom. She was also one of five US lawyers advising the China Initiative, a group of senior Justice Department officials tasked with fighting government-sponsored industrial espionage.
Nealy Cox was an assistant to the US attorney in Dallas from 1999 to 2008, specializing in cybercrime. She also served in Washington, DC, as chief of staff for the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice, where she worked on policy and legislative initiatives.
Nealy Cox, who graduated from Southern Methodist University with a law degree, first left the US law firm in 2008 to work for Stroz Friedberg, a global risk management and cybersecurity consultancy where she founded and ran the Dallas office.
U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas speaks about multiple arrests in a regional health fraud investigation in Dallas at a news conference Wednesday, September 18, 2019. (Brian Elledge / Staff Photographer)
After Nealy Cox returned to the US law firm to run it, he teamed up with local police to crack down on human trafficking, including pimps and panties in child sex trafficking. Earlier this year, she spoke about her office’s efforts to target the demand side of child trafficking and said it was important to track “the whole ecosystem”.
“By attacking both supply and demand, we believe we can really make a difference in fighting this dehumanizing, horrific crime,” she told the Dallas Morning News.
Her office has and is tracking multiple child sex trafficking cases and has shut down CityXGuide.com, a website that launched just a day after the infamous online sex marketplace Backpage.com closed in April 2018.
“With a courthouse shooting, government shutdown, global pandemic and unprecedented civil unrest, Northern Texas attorneys and staff have never wavered in their commitment to justice,” Nealy Cox said in her statement. “We have seen similar determination from our law enforcement partners at the federal, state and local levels. I am grateful for their passion and inspired by their commitment. “
Nealy Cox reassured the public this spring that the coronavirus pandemic would not slow the work of her office in tracking down criminals and trying to contain the rise in violent crime in the city. Since then, her office has filed cases against suspected scammers accused of COVID-19 fraud, including some who promoted false treatments and cures.
Others have been charged with fraud for receiving federal funds under the CARES Act for non-existent businesses or employees.
Nealy Cox also oversaw the charges against a former Dallas City Council member and developer accused of bribing her. Ruel Hamilton, a longtime Dallas developer of affordable housing, is expected to go on trial next year for allegedly paying to influence Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway, another former city council member to help with Hamilton’s real estate.
Davis pleaded guilty in March 2019 and was killed four months later in a car accident that also claimed her daughter. Caraway is a witness against Hamilton in the case of public corruption.
Under Nealy Cox, the office continued to crack down on healthcare fraud, including doctor backlash, counterfeit pharmacy prescriptions, and home health fraud. The Dallas area is one of several hotspots across the country for Medicare fraud and crime involving other federal health insurance programs.
President-elect Joe Biden and the Democrats will pick the next potential US attorney sometime after he takes office in January. The nomination requires the approval of the Senate. Texas Senator John Cornyn has usually played an important role in this process.
“Erin Nealy Cox is a world class executive and attorney – one of the many reasons I selected her to chair the Attorney General’s Advisory Board,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “As a fierce advocate of human trafficking, public corruption, domestic violence and violent crime, she has shown an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of justice in North Texas and across the country. I thank her for her dedicated service to the department and wish her every success in the future. “