CHARLESTON, W.Va. – William S. Thompson was formally sworn in today as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, and he pledged to continue the office’s mission of promoting justice and fighting crime throughout the district.
“My focus is on making our communities safer and more secure, and to hold people accountable for their actions,” Thompson told the members of the federal judiciary, distinguished guests, family and other well-wishers at his investiture ceremony.
Thompson affirmed his commitment to targeting the mid- and upper-level distributors of illegal drugs while supporting and working with recovery and prevention groups. Thompson noted that the epidemic of fatal drug overdoses remains all too real in the district: the latest casualties include a former baseball teammate of his son who died the previous evening.
“A priority of this office is to go after the drugs that are actually killing our communities, such as fentanyl, other opiates and meth,” Thompson said. “This is where a lot of the violence in our communities is actually coming from.”
Combating white-collar crime is also a priority, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office is best equipped to tackle such cases, Thompson said. He cited the office’s recent successful prosecution of foreign nationals, internet-based romance fraud schemes, and COVID-19 relief fraud.
As United States Attorney, Thompson is the chief law enforcement officer in the southern half of the state. Thompson leads an office of 34 attorneys and 41 non-attorney personnel located in offices in Charleston, Huntington, and Beckley. The office is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the district including crimes related to terrorism, public corruption, child exploitation, firearms, and narcotics. The office also defends the United States in civil cases and collects debts owed to the United States.
Thompson praised the ability and professionalism of the people in his office, citing their achievement in the past year. Thompson noted that after taking the helm, he assigned training duties to three of the office’s attorneys and had a fourth detailed to the January 6 prosecutions.
“I fully expected our caseload numbers to take a significant hit this year as a result, and I was going to be okay with that,” Thompson said. “However, the opposite was true. Our number of cases filed in my first year actually rose 48 percent, while nationwide cases in U.S. Attorney Offices went down by over 9 percent.”
Thompson recalled that he was approached about serving as U.S. Attorney on January 6, 2021, and explained that the events that day “solidified my resolve to be the best United States Attorney I could be.” Alongside drugs and white-collar crime, domestic terrorism is also a top priority of his office, Thompson said.
“Fortunately, this district has not been touched by this significantly yet, but that is a phone call I dread every day,” Thompson said.
United States Senator Joe Manchin spoke during the ceremony and hailed the selection of Thompson as U.S. Attorney.
“Today, we had the honor of celebrating Will Thompson’s dedication to the great state of West Virginia and the rule of law,” Manchin said. “Will’s work speaks for itself, and I’m pleased to be able to celebrate my friend today at his investiture ceremony. Congratulations to Will and Keri on this new endeavor and thank you for your continued service to the Mountain State.”
United States Senator Shelley Moore Capito also lauded Thompson’s selection.
“U.S. Attorney Thompson’s professional experience make him uniquely qualified to serve West Virginians in this capacity,” said Capito. “He has shown great leadership and professionalism throughout his career, and I am confident in his ability to uphold the rule of law and protect our communities here at home. I congratulate U.S. Attorney Thompson on his investiture today, and know he will continue to serve West Virginia honorably.”
Thompson was nominated by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., on August 10, 2021. The United States Senate confirmed Thompson by voice vote on October 5, 2021. Today’s ceremony follows a private swearing-in conducted on October 13, 2021.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.