HARTFORD, Conn. — On the day her career as a federal prosecutor hit the 20-year mark, Deirdre Daly stepped down as U.S. Attorney for Connecticut.
She didn’t appear to have any regrets, instead touting her and her office’s efforts fighting the opioid crisis, violent crime, public corruption and cybercrime.
In March, the 58-year-old Fairfield resident was among 46 remaining U.S. attorneys nominated by former President Barack Obama who were asked to resign. It is customary for all U.S. attorneys to leave their posts once a new president of a different party is in office, and many left in January.
Daly, however, was among a small number of federal prosecutors to be given more time to reach service anniversaries that affect retirement benefits. She left office Friday.
Daly, a registered Democrat, was nominated by Obama for Connecticut U.S. attorney and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2014, after having served a year in the post on an interim basis. She had worked in the Connecticut office since July 2010 and was a federal prosecutor in New York from 1985 to 1997, with a career in private practice in between.
She was the first woman to be nominated for and confirmed as Connecticut U.S. attorney. Nora Dannehy was acting attorney from 2008 to 2010.
“I’ve had a very broad and interesting career as a prosecutor,” Daly said. “But I think that my time is up. Although it’s bittersweet, it’s time to move on. It’s been a great honor and a tremendous opportunity to serve in this position.”
At the top of her own list of notable prosecutions while leading the Connecticut office was the takedown of the Red Side Guerilla Brims gang in New Haven. Three dozen gang members were convicted and lengthy prison sentences were handed down.
The takedown also solved seven murders, four attempted murders and four armed robberies that occurred in 2011 and 2012.
Daly also cited the fraud conviction of former securities trader Jesse Litvak, who was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $2 million earlier this year. She said the case served as a deterrent to other white-collar criminals.
Daly’s office also won convictions against four East Haven police officers charged with abusing and racially profiling Hispanic residents. The Justice Department launched a separate civil rights probe that resulted in police department reforms.
Former Republican Gov. John Rowland was convicted of campaign fraud under Daly’s watch in 2014 and is serving a 30-month prison sentence. It was the second prison term for Rowland, who resigned the governorship in 2004 amid a corruption probe that sent him to prison for 10 months.
“It’s very important that the public know that prosecutors will take on public officials that cross the line in order to benefit themselves and abuse the public trust,” Daly said.
FIGHTING SOCIETY’S ILLS
Daly and other federal prosecutors sought to curb the opioid problem by putting drug dealers in prison and educating the public. From 2012 to 2016, accidental drug deaths in Connecticut soared from 355 to 917, mostly due to the powerful opioid fentanyl.
Daly encouraged police to treat overdose deaths as crimes. Her office has prosecuted around 90 drug cases over the past four years and taken part in large fentanyl seizures.
New London State’s Attorney Michael Regan said Daly’s office was helpful in lending resources to deal with the opioid crisis.
“She’ll be missed,” Regan said in remarks reported by The Day of New London. “Although it’s a political appointment, she was a hands-on prosecutor.”
Among Daly’s other initiatives were fighting human trafficking, computer crimes and violence in cities, while working to improve relationships between law enforcement and communities and raise awareness about police wellness amid a large number of officer suicides.
Daly said she has no immediate plans to take another job. Possibilities down the road include a return to private law practice and, maybe, another stint as a federal prosecutor.
“This job has been a remarkable one, so I need to create some space between this job and what I do next,” she said. “I’m going to take a breath.”