Donald Washington

U.S. Atty. Donald W. Washington, who led the new investigation into the 1964 murder of Ferriday shoe shop owner Frank Morris, announced Thursday that he will step down from his office effective January 18.

"It has been a high honor and great privilege to serve as United States Attorney, and to work alongside so many talented and dedicated professionals in service to our country and the cause of justice," Washington stated.

"The (Morris) investigation will continue to move forward," Washington told The Sentinel. He said the Morris case "continues to be addressed aggressively" by the FBI and prosecutors.

He encouraged "those with a memory of those days or may have heard of something that may be relevant to the Morris case or others to call the FBI and provide whatever information they may have."

The phone number for the New Orleans FBI Field Division is 504-816-3000 while the Monroe Resident Agency number 318-387-0773

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those responsible for Morris' death.

Washington was appointed by President George W. Bush and took office in September 2001, just six days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. After the Morris case was re-opened in 2007, Washington led a team of U.S. attorneys from his office along with FBI agents to Ferriday to gather information on the Morris case. He remains active in the investigation while he completes his final days in office.

During his eight years as the chief federal law enforcement officer, his efforts centered on combating terrorism, drug trafficking, violent crime, public corruption, health care fraud and the exploitation of children, and to pursue and collect monies owed to the government.

Washington personally served as co-counsel in several criminal and civil prosecutions. In June 2008, a jury in Shreveport convicted Caddo Parish District Judge Michael Walker and Caddo Parish Juvenile Judge Vernon Claville of racketeering for accepting bribe payments from a bail bondsman. Later the same year, a jury in Lafayette convicted Dr. Mehmood Patel, a cardiologist, of heath care fraud for performing and billing Medicare for unnecessary medical procedures causing the Western District of Louisiana to be the first in the nation in successfully prosecuting this type of case.

The first African American ever to serve as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Washington directed criminal prosecutions against the unlawful intimidation of citizens through cross burnings and noose hangings. He also supervised the eminent resolution of decade-old litigation aimed at ending racial discrimination in the school systems of Lafayette, St. Landry and Evangeline Parishes.

Washington also attracted national attention during the September 2007 "March on Jena," when more than 20,000 protesters from across the country traveled to Jena to call attention to the treatment of six high school students by the local criminal justice authorities. He said through it all he sought to ease racial tensions while promoting respect for the rule of law and the dignity of all citizens.

Washington also played a key law enforcement and prosecutorial role for the Department of Justice in the historic aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"From my childhood in rural east Texas, I was taught that being an American is one of the greatest blessings any human can receive," he said. "And with that privilege come the profound responsibilities of duty, honor and country. Those ideals were further engrained in me at West Point and as an active duty military officer, and I have strived each day that I have had the honor of serving here to carry them forward and use them as a constant guiding beacon in the pursuit of justice."

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