Carmen M. Ortiz, who grew up in a humble background in New York City's tough Spanish Harlem neighborhood, has been confirmed as the new US attorney for Massachusetts, the first woman and Hispanic to hold the job of the state's top federal prosecutor.
She succeeds Michael K. Loucks, who has been serving as acting US attorney since Michael J. Sullivan, a George W. Bush appointee, resigned in April after 7 1/2 years on the job.
``I am truly honored and humbled by the confidence President Obama has shown in me by appointing me as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts,'' Ortiz said in a statement.
Ortiz, whose name was forwarded to Obama in May by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and by Senator John F. Kerry, said she and Kennedy spoke on the phone at the time about the importance of public service.
"I told Senator Kennedy that if confirmed, I would make him proud, and I intend to honor his legacy,'' she said.
Ortiz is the oldest of five children. Her father worked in the garment industry, drove a cab, and finally opened a gift shop, she said in a Globe interview in May. Her mother sold Avon products to help make ends meet. The family later moved to Long Island.
Ortiz attended Adelphi University and received a full scholarship to George Washington University Law School in Washington, from which she graduated in 1981.
She worked as a prosecutor in the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office and has worked for the US attorney's office for the past 12 years, most recently in the Economic Crimes Unit. She drew perhaps the most public attention when she was not a prosecutor.
She was working at the Center for Criminal Justice at Harvard Law School in 1990 when she served on a commission charged by the NFL commissioner with investigating allegations of sexual harassment against members of the New England Patriots.
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