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Letter to William A. DeGroot Removing Him From Office

May 01, 1929


You are hereby removed from the Office of the United States Attorney, eastern district of New York, effective immediately.


Through the Attorney General.

[William A. DeGroot, Esq., United States Attorney, Brooklyn, N.Y.]

May 1, 1929.

Note: The White House also released the text of a letter to the President from Attorney General William D. Mitchell recommending removal, as follows:


I recommend that an order be made removing William A. DeGroot from the office of United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

On January 28, 1929, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of Administration, at the direction of Attorney General Sargent, orally requested DeGroot's resignation. He then declined to submit it. On April 3, 1929, I wrote Mr. DeGroot asking for his resignation, but he did not acknowledge the letter. On April 24, 1929, I renewed my request for his resignation. I am in receipt of a telegram from him dated April 29th, declining to submit his resignation. He has announced publicly that he will not resign.

Attached hereto is a copy of a statement to the press issued by me under date of April 30th, which reviews in a general way the relations between the Department and Mr. DeGroot during and since the year 1927. Every official in this Department who has had contact with Mr. DeGroot's office agrees that conditions in that office are unsatisfactory, that the personnel should be reorganized, that Mr. DeGroot is incompetent, and an effective administration of that office can only be obtained by his removal.

Under date of February 2, 1929, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Court of Claims Division reported that Mr. DeGroot's office was slow, dilatory, and frequently pays no attention to departmental communications.

On the same date the Assistant Attorney General in charge of land and Indian affairs and the Pardon Attorney both reported that the transaction of government business by Mr. DeGroot's office had been unsatisfactory.

Under date of February 4, 1929, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of Prohibition reported that Mr. DeGroot's office was in a state of disorganization and has been for a long time, and under date of February 11, 1929, in reporting to the Attorney General in the case of a rum ship seizure which was handled through Mr. DeGroot's office, reported:

"Here is one of the most aggravating instances of incompetency and non-cooperation" on the part of Mr. DeGroot's office.

The Prohibition Commissioner for Mr. DeGroot's district advises that his experience with the United States Attorney's office in Brooklyn had been [p.132] unsatisfactory, that he was getting practically no cooperation from that office, and is unable to get prosecutions in cases in which there is political influence.

Under date of February 1, 1929, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of Administration reported, respecting Mr. DeGroot's office.

"This office has given the Department more concern in the last few years than any other in the country."

This Department has been struggling for two years to improve conditions in DeGroot's office, without much success. His removal was recommended by the Assistant Attorney General in charge of Administration on February 1st, last.

On January 25, 1929, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division reported adversely with details on the administration of Mr. DeGroot's office, and recommended his removal.

There have been repeated charges of irregularities on the part of members of DeGroot's staff. He has never shown any desire or disposition to investigate or take action in such cases. Since March 31, 1927, there have been seven instances of forced resignations or removals brought about by this Department among members of Mr. DeGroot's staff for gross irregularities.

There seems to be no difference of opinion among judges, members of the bar, or officials or attorneys in the Department of Justice, as to the existence of unsatisfactory conditions in Mr. DeGroot's office and as to the necessity for supplanting him by a competent and reliable man who will thoroughly reorganize the office and make immediate and extensive changes in the personnel. It would be a waste of time to comply with Mr. DeGroot's request for any further hearing.

The conclusions I have expressed are supported by a mass of details in the files of this Department, with which I have not burdened you.



Attorney General

[The President, The White House]

Herbert Hoover, Letter to William A. DeGroot Removing Him From Office Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208965

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