A former FBI agent is now the top law enforcement officer in East Texas. John Malcolm Bales was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas on May 1.

Bales was picked by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to follow Rebecca Gregory, who announced her departure from the Department of Justice on April 1.

Gregory had been an appointee of President George W. Bush, and is one of many likely turnovers in the Department of Justice under the new Democratic administration. Gregory will become senior counsel for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican, as well as associate deputy attorney general for criminal justice.

Bales, 54, is from Nacogdoches and has previously served as both first assistant U.S. attorney and most recently as chief of the criminal division for the district. Prior to joining the U.S. attorney's office in 1989, Bales was a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As U.S. Attorney, Bales will focus on national security, immigration and financial fraud, as well as the Department of Justice's other priority areas of violent crime, including gun and gang prosecutions, drug trafficking, crimes against children, corporate fraud and public corruption.

Headquartered in Beaumont, the Eastern District of Texas encompasses 43 counties from the Oklahoma border to the Gulf of Mexico.
Bales will be responsible for a budget of more than $8 million and a staff of more than 100, including 50 lawyers in five division offices located in Plano, Tyler, Sherman, Texarkana and Lufkin.

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Bales earned a law degree from the UT School of Law.

According to a press release, Bales and his wife, Betsy, have been married for 30 years and are the parents of 6 children and 3 grandchildren.

In January, U.S. Attorney Richard Roper did not wait to be replaced in the Northern District of Texas and left office to join the Thompson & Knight law firm in Dallas. First Assistant James T. Jacks is Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District.

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