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Published: Friday, 5/11/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Assistant U.S. attorney closes book on career

Bauer headed Toledo branch since '90

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
David Bauer caps a 36-year career as a prosecutor, most of which was spent in the U.S. attorney's office in Toledo. He was promoted to chief of the Toledo office in 1990 and became the longest-serving person in that job. He said the biggest change in his office was the increased cooperation among federal, state, and local agencies after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. David Bauer caps a 36-year career as a prosecutor, most of which was spent in the U.S. attorney's office in Toledo. He was promoted to chief of the Toledo office in 1990 and became the longest-serving person in that job. He said the biggest change in his office was the increased cooperation among federal, state, and local agencies after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
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After spending 36 years behind a prosecutor's table in state and federal courtrooms, David Bauer acknowledges that a few names stick out in his mind.

There's Paul "Butch" Wilson, convicted in the 1980s of running one of the nation's largest sports gambling operations from a Toledo bar. And of course Tom Noe, the rare-coin dealer sentenced to federal prison in 2006 after pleading guilty to funneling money to President George W. Bush's campaign fund.

Although those people are certainly hard to forget, Mr. Bauer said it is the numerous hard-working people in the local U.S. attorney's office and in law enforcement that he worked with during his decades-long career that he will remember the most in retirement.

As of this month, the assistant U.S. attorney has officially retired, leaving behind a job he loved and people he respected. Thursday, those people he worked with for so many years said farewell.

"People have said to me, 'You have an interesting career.' It certainly has been that," said Mr. Bauer, 65. "Looking back, I wouldn't do anything differently. I had a great career. I was fortunate to do something that I truly loved."

After graduating with a degree in history and government from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Mr. Bauer spent four years in the Air Force. He joined the security police, a decision that ultimately led to his career in law.

He said he enjoyed working in a law enforcement environment and became very familiar with the Air Force lawyers.

So when he left the military, he enrolled in the University of Toledo college of law. In law school, Mr. Bauer's fate to become a prosecutor was sealed.

"The University of Toledo had and still has a legal clinic for third-year law students. Back in those days, the criminal law clinic was run by then professor Jim Carr," Mr. Bauer said, referring to U.S. District Judge James Carr. "I got into the clinic, and Jim assigned me to the Perrysburg municipal prosecutor's office. That's how the prosecution thing started."

After graduation in 1976, Mr. Bauer began working at the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, first under Harry Friberg and then Anthony Pizza. After five years, he left to join the Justice Department's Organized Crime Strike Force in Cleveland -- a special initiative started by Attorney General Robert Kennedy that targeted the mob.

In 1986, Mr. Bauer returned to Toledo as an assistant U.S. attorney.

Judge Carr, who recently moved to senior status, recalled Mr. Bauer as a student and said he was proud of his part in helping him start his legal journey.

"It's been a pleasure this past couple of decades to have him in court representing the government and the people of the United States with the highest degree of competence and integrity," the judge said. "In many ways, Dave Bauer was a model prosecutor."

Mr. Bauer was promoted to chief of the Toledo branch office in 1990 and became the longest-serving person in that position. In that capacity, he oversaw a staff of nine lawyers and nine support staff in the downtown Toledo offices.

Succeeding Mr. Bauer is Ava Rottell Dustin, who will become the first woman to be Toledo branch chief. Ms. Dustin, 44, joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2001 after eight years as an assistant county prosecutor in Richland County.

Mr. Bauer said that among the changes he saw during his career, the most significant have been since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That's when agencies -- local, state, and federal -- really began working together. "We've formed significant partnerships with local and state agencies. In the '70s, when I started, you didn't see that. Everybody did their own thing," he said. "That's just not the case anymore, at least here in Toledo."

Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, complimented Mr. Bauer on his years in the office and called him a leader in building partnerships. He said Ms. Dustin has an important job in continuing those relationships with local and state law enforcement.

"Dave has provided leadership, not only in the U.S. attorney's office but in the entire law enforcement community in Toledo over decades," Mr. Dettelbach said. "It would be hard to overestimate the positive impact he has had in Toledo."

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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