U.S. Attorney Donald Cazayoux Jr. resigning

U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. said Wednesday in Baton Rouge he will leave office July 1. Cazayoux has served three years as head federal prosecutor for a nine-parish district based in the capital city.

“It has been an enormous privilege to serve the Middle District of Louisiana as its U.S. Attorney,” Cazayoux, 49, said in a written statement. “This office, with its wonderful women and men, represents the best of public service.”

Added Cazayoux: “While it is personally the right time to leave for my family and me, I do so with utmost humility and gratitude for this opportunity to serve.”

The prosecutor said he will join a private law practice in the Baton Rouge area after leaving office.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., recommended Cazayoux for the post of U.S. attorney in May 2009. He was nominated by President Barack Obama in April 2010 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June 2010.

“Don Cazayoux has been a tireless advocate for the people of Louisiana, particularly in his good work bringing child predators to justice,” Landrieu said Wednesday in a statement released through her staff. “There is no doubt that our communities are safer because of Don’s work, and I wish him well in the next chapter of his career.”

Cazayoux formerly had a private law practice in New Roads and served as an assistant district attorney in Pointe Coupee Parish. He was a Democratic member of the state House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008.

In 2008, Cazayoux was elected to serve the last six months of the congressional term of former U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge. But his bid for re-election was thwarted late that year by Baton Rouge Republican Bill Cassidy, the current office holder.

Cassidy has announced that he will attempt to wrest Landrieu’s Senate seat from her during next year’s elections.

Asked whether he would seek federal or state elective office after leaving the U.S. attorney’s post, Cazayoux said a return to politics is “definitely not in my immediate future and probably never” would happen.

The Justice Department established the Baton Rouge Medicare Fraud Strike Force five months before Cazayoux took office. Since then, 69 defendants have been indicted. Convictions thus far have resulted in court orders for restitution of more than $32.4 million to Medicare and other agencies, Cazayoux said.

Justice Department prosecutors and assistant U.S. attorneys pursue the Strike Force cases. Investigators are assigned to the Strike Force by the FBI, Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.

During his three years in office, Cazayoux said, $17.6 million in restitution for crime victims in a wide range of cases has been recovered by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He said Medicare and other federal agencies were among the fund recipients.

Former U.S. Attorney David R. Dugas began the prosecution of elected officials in the Baton Rouge area who were snared in a sting operation the FBI used to root out municipal corruption.

But several high-profile defendants, including St. Gabriel Mayor George Grace Sr., were convicted during Cazayoux’s watch.

Cazayoux is a native of New Roads and a graduate of LSU. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University Law School.

The Middle District of Louisiana includes the parishes of East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana, Iberville, Ascension, Livingston and St. Helena.