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Todd Graves sworn in
as United States Attorney

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Todd Graves accepted a call to duty on Monday.

In a late afternoon ceremony at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, the Platte County Prosecutor for nearly seven years was sworn in as United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. It was a relatively quickly-called ceremony attended by family and friends.

President George W. Bush had appointed Graves to the post several weeks ago, but the appointment had not yet gone through the process of being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Graves' appointment will still need to be approved by the Senate, but that is seen as a formality at this point.

"The judges of the federal district court are appointing me. They wanted me to do this 45 days ago," Graves said Monday afternoon as he said goodbye to his staff at the prosecutor's office in Platte City.

Last week's terrorist attack will delay the Senate confirmation process as U.S. leaders deal with more pressing matters.

Graves explained that he had received assurance from Democratic U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan's office that she would support his nomination when it comes before the full Senate.

Republican U.S. Sen. Kit Bond's support is assured, as he had submitted Graves' name to the president for consideration.

Graves, who turned 36 on Wednesday, said he had resisted taking the early appointment for a couple of reasons, primarily because "I was in a public office and needed to wrap some things up here."

U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner administered the oath of office to Graves in an informal proceeding late Monday afternoon at the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City. A formal swearing-in ceremony will be held later, at a date to be determined.

Graves replaces Marietta Parker, who in February was appointed by U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft to serve as U.S. Attorney on an interim basis, following the resignation of the last presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorney, Stephen L. Hill, Jr. Parker will continue to serve the office as an assistant U.S. attorney.

Graves was first elected prosecutor in 1994, defeating incumbent Democrat Vic Peters. At the time, he was the youngest (age 29) full time prosecuting attorney in Missouri.

He managed an office of six assistant prosecutors and a yearly caseload of about 400 felonies, 2,500 misdemeanors and 14,000 traffic offenses.

He was re-elected without opposition in 1998. In 2000 he came out on the short end of a race for state treasurer to Nancy Farmer.

Prior to serving as county prosecutor, Graves was in private practice with the law firm of Bryan Cave. In 1991 he was employed as an assistant attorney general for the state and served that year as a staff assistant on the Governor's Commission on Crime.

He said he would know more soon.

"I'll have top secret clearance after I'm sworn in and I'll know more at that time."

In addition, another high profile case facing the U.S. Attorney's office is that of Robert Courtney, the Kansas City pharmacist accused of diluting chemotherapy drugs.

Graves will oversee 53 attorneys on his staff in his new position, up from the six attorneys he managed as county prosecutor.

"It's breaking my heart punching out of here. I've been here almost seven years, I've hired everybody on this staff. I feel like we've professionalized this office," he said, explaining that attorneys in the prosecutor's office are no longer allowed to have private practices on the side, eliminating any potential conflicts of interest.

"It's been a great run," he said.
Raised on a family farm near Tarkio, Graves has been married 11 years to his wife, Tracy. They have three children and reside on a 210 acre farm north of Kansas City that has been in the family since 1867. Todd and Tracy also own and operate Noggin Noodle, an educational toy and teaching supply store on Barry Road in Platte County.

The nation's 93 United States Attorneys are responsible for the prosecution of federal crimes such as firearms, narcotics, money laundering, pornography and fraud; the defense of civil cases brought against the United States; and the collection of debts owed to the United States and restitution owed by criminals to their victims.

He decided to go ahead and get started at the U.S. Attorney's post when recent events convinced him it was time to get rolling.

"They have so many high profile cases going on down there (at U.S. Attorney's office) right now," he said.

Of utmost importance as he gets started in his new position find out if there's any role his federal office will need to play in the investigation of last week's attack on America by terrorists.

"I have no idea if there are any aspects of the investigation that tie to this district," he said about an hour before his swearing-in ceremony.