Federal prosecutors increasing focus on one midstate county

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | Jul 19, 2019 1:05 PM

U.S. Attorney William McSwain talks with reporters at the Lancaster County Judicial Center July 12, 2019. (Brett Sholtis/WITF News)

(Harrisburg) -- Federal prosecutors are paying increased attention to one midstate county.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently visited Lancaster to announce charges against an East Hempfield Township man who allegedly sexually abused four girls at a Kenyan orphanage he founded.

William McSwain's office has also taken up four criminal cases from the city.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said he sees this as a renewal of the U.S. Attorney's commitment to the entire district, not just Philadelphia and its suburbs.

"I can't think of the last time we had an actual U.S. Attorney come to Lancaster, let alone assign--he assigned two of his assistants to the Lancaster area," Stedman said.

That, along with better communication between his office and the U.S. Attorney's, will likely free up resources at the county level, Stedman said

Federal sentences are generally harsher than what the state hands down.

Stedman said that can encourage lower-level criminals caught up in probes to share more information.

"It loosens up some tongues and then some of the dealers in firearms and guns tend to talk more," Stedman said. "And then, what that means is ultimately more safety, because then we can go after the worst criminal."

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