Position: Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Organization: Drug Enforcement Administration
Place of Birth: Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S.
Activity: Prosecutor. With May 2020, has served as Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Previously, he was interim United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, the country's largest U.S. attorney's office; a senior counselor to U.S.
Timothy Shea is an American prosecutor who, since May 2020, has served as Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Previously, he was interim United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, the country's largest U.S. attorney's office; a senior counselor to U.S. Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice; a lobbyist; and private corporate lawyer.
During his short tenure as U.S. attorney, Shea took the controversial step of calling for a dismissal of charges against Trump associate Michael Flynn, even though Flynn had already pleaded guilty. Shea also intervened in the criminal case against convicted Trump associate Roger Stone, recommending a lighter sentence for Stone than the career prosecutors who had worked on the case.
President Trump nominated Justin Herdman on May 18 to be the permanent successor. On May 18, 2020, it was also reported that Shea would be named the new Administrator for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
Early life and education
Shea was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, into a family of five generations of firefighters. He studied political science and government at Boston College, graduating magna cum laude in 1982. He received his J.D. degree, graduating magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991.
Shea is a "close confidant" to Attorney General William Barr and "Barr's right-hand man" at the Justice Department, according to Fox News.
As a senior counselor, Shea advised Barr on changes at the Federal Bureau of Prisons after the death of the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Shea also worked on the Justice Department's Operation Relentless Pursuit, aimed at reducing violent crime in seven U.S. cities.
Barr has known Shea since 1991, when Shea was associate deputy attorney general for Barr in the George H.W. Bush administration.
Shea has served in a variety of roles in the Justice Department. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney in Virginia between 1992 and 1997.
Shea was chief of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office's Public Protection Bureau from 1999 to 2001, responsible for enforcing state laws on consumer protection, elder protection, civil rights, energy, and the environment.
He was chief counsel and staff director for the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He also worked on the staff of the House Appropriations Committee.
Shea also worked as a lobbyist and private corporate lawyer. He worked at the law firms Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Bingham McCutchen.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
Barr named Shea the interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia on January 30, 2020. Shea replaced Jessie K. Liu, who had been U.S. Attorney since 2017. The office has 300 prosecutors.
Shea chose as his chief of staff David Metcalf, 54, who had been counsel to Barr's deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen.
Some high-profile investigations that Shea oversaw are related to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.On May 18, 2020, Barr named Shea as the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Trump nominated Justin Herdman to be Shea's permanent successor as U.S. Attorney, and Michael R. Sherwin to lead the office on an interim basis.
Roger Stone sentencing
The Mueller-related case against the political consultant and Trump advisor Roger Stone, who was found guilty of witness tampering and lying to investigators, led to a national controversy in Shea's first weeks on the job. On Feb. 11, 2020, Barr took the rare step of reducing a sentencing recommendation by four prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office that President Donald Trump had called “very horrible and unfair". Barr told ABC News that Shea had initially signaled to him that the recommendation would be about half the time that the line prosecutors requested. Shea's name was attached to both the initial recommendation of a seven- to nine-year prison term for Stone, and Barr's version a day later that called the first version "excessive". The four line prosecutors resigned from the case, and one resigned from the Justice Department entirely.
Michael Flynn case
Shea wrote the Justice Department's motion on May 7, 2020, to dismiss the charges against Michael Flynn, the former U.S. national security advisor to Donald Trump. Flynn had pled guilty to charges of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his conversations in 2016 with Russia's ambassador. Shea's motion said that the FBI agents’ questioning of Flynn "was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn." Shea alone signed the court document — an unusual departure, as court filings are usually signed by lower-level career prosecutors, not political appointees.
Criminal Division overhaul
Shortly before his departure, Shea reorganized the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's office. Officials had discussed an overhaul of the unit for years, but some lawyers in the office were said to express concern because some prosecutors were moved out of the public corruption unit, which handles politically sensitive matters like the Roger Stone case.
Drug Enforcement Administration
Attorney General Barr named Shea as the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration in May 2020.
In June 2020, Shea asked Barr to give the DEA temporary power “to enforce any federal crime committed as a result of the protests over the death of George Floyd," including the authority to conduct covert surveillance on protesters. More than 100 DEA agents assisted National Guard troops in Washington during the protests.