TAMPA — Robert O'Neill was sworn in Tuesday as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, making him the new top federal law enforcement officer for a 35-county area with a population of nearly 11 million.
U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday administered the oath to him during the lunch break of a fraud trial that O'Neill was prosecuting. Later, O'Neill said he expects the U.S. Attorney's Office to continue focusing on fraud and financial crime.
"In my experience, white-collar crime is epidemic in Florida," O'Neill said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District has an annual budget of about $25 million and offices in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Ocala and Fort Myers.
O'Neill, 53, will supervise a staff of 255 — 110 of them attorneys — and serve a four-year term. He will earn $155,500 a year. When possible, he also plans to continue trying cases himself.
"You can't do a lot of them," he said. "I do feel it's important. I think it's important to lead by example."
An honors graduate of Fordham University and the New York Law School, O'Neill has worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa for 17 years. In 2007 and 2008, he served as interim U.S. attorney.
O'Neill succeeds A. Brian Albritton, 53, who is joining the Tampa office of a regional law firm and will specialize in white-collar criminal defense.