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Yang Taps Veteran Prosecutor as Deputy

June 14, 2002|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In her first major move since taking office a month ago, U.S. Atty. Debra W. Yang has tapped an experienced former federal prosecutor to become her second-in-command.

George Cardona, who currently serves as chief of the Los Angeles city attorney's criminal division, will assume his new duties July 1.

As chief assistant U.S. attorney, the 41-year-old Cardona will help set policies and oversee the work of the office's 240 lawyers.

The U.S. attorney's office, headquartered in Los Angeles with branches in Santa Ana and Riverside, prosecutes federal crimes in a seven-county area of Southern California.

Cardona, who joined the city attorney's office in January, said Thursday that he decided to leave "because Deb Yang offered me the job."

Yang said she chose Cardona because "he was very well-regarded when he was here. He has considerable supervisory experience and a very keen intellect. I think his talents and his long-term vision are essential elements to running the U.S. attorney's office."

Tom Holliday, a veteran white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former president of the Federal Bar Assn., also praised Cardona, describing him as "very bright, very fair and very experienced."

A graduate of Yale Law School, Cardona clerked for a federal appeals court judge in Philadelphia after graduation, then migrated to the West Coast to take a job with the law firm Irell & Manella in Century City.

He then joined the Los Angeles County district attorney's office as a prosecutor in Bellflower and later Norwalk.

In 1991, he was hired by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. After rising to deputy chief of the major frauds section, he left to become chief appellate attorney in the San Francisco federal prosecutor's office. He returned to Los Angeles after several months to head the U.S. attorney's criminal division, the No. 3 job.

In 2000, Cardona resigned to become a professor at UCLA Law School, where he taught criminal trial advocacy. He was lured away from academia late last year by newly elected Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo.

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