VALDOSTA — As U.S. Attorney Michael Moore prepares to leave his post at the end of the month, he is receiving praise for his achievements during the past five years as well as harsh criticism for his handling of the Kendrick Johnson case.
Michael Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced his resignation Thursday, which will be effective Nov. 23.
Middle District Senior Judge Hugh Lawson said Moore ran a “steady ship” and conducted his cases “consistent with the desires of the Department of Justice and with fairness and justice.”
“Michael Moore has been an outstanding U.S. Attorney,” Lawson said. “He has discharged his duties consistent with the highest traditions of service of the Department of Justice. He will be missed by many, many people, including myself.”
Since his 2010 appointment, Moore has handled several high-profile cases, including a $11.2 million settlement with ConAgra Foods stemming from allegations the company shipped peanut butter containing salmonella.
The case that has gained the most attention has been his federal review of the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson.
Johnson’s body was found upside down in a vertically stored gym mat at Lowndes High School in January 2013. A state autopsy ruled the 17-year-old’s death accidental. Johnson’s parents insists their son died of foul play.
When Moore announced his review of the case during an October 2013 press conference, he said, “A sufficient basis exists for my office to conduct a formal review of the facts and investigation surrounding the death of Kendrick Johnson.”
Now, a retired FBI senior official is calling on Moore to release the information his office received in 2013 which prompted the federal review, now in its third year.
Ron Hosko is a former assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, an organization that provides financial support and legal advice to law-enforcement personnel.
“Mr. Moore should now, before he ‘flees the scene,’ tell us exactly what information he had over two years ago ‘indicating the existence of federal criminal activity’ in the Johnson case,” Hosko said.
Moore did not offer any specifics during his 2013 press conference but did say he had personally reviewed the investigative case file from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and had met with Johnson’s parents and their private investigator.
Hosko said he believes Moore’s review of the Johnson case was opened on “nothing more than rumor” and suggested the attorney had “violated his oath of office” in the way the case was initiated.
Beginning an investigation without sufficient evidence of a federal crime could be a violation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, Hosko said, and he believes that was the case when Moore opened his investigation in 2013.
Moore’s office is forwarding all inquiries about the Johnson case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.
The Valdosta Daily Times has reached out the office for a comment, but has not received a reply.
Adam Floyd is a crime reporter at the Valdosta Daily Times.