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Amityville Grad Named Acting U.S. Attorney in Virginia

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Raj Parekh, a 1999 graduate of Amityville Memorial High School, was named the acting United States attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia in January. In this role, Parekh supervises the prosecution of all federal crimes and the litigation of all civil matters in which the United States has an interest. He leads a staff of approximately 300 federal prosecutors, civil litigators and support personnel across four divisions located in Alexandria, Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News, a district that includes more than six million residents.

The theme of Amityville’s 1999 yearbook is “Making every moment count,” a motto that Parekh has fully embraced. In high school, Parekh excelled academically, graduating near the top of his class. He was a member of “The Amityville Echo” student newspaper, Key Club and Moot Court, and was president of the student government in his junior year. It is because of those high school activities that he developed a passion for trial work and public service.  Outside of school, he volunteered to care for elderly patients at the Broadlawn Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, stocked shelves at CVS, and played baseball and the upright string bass. 

Parekh credits his Amityville teachers and peers for their positive influences on him and others. 

“They are among the most talented, generous, compassionate and culturally accepting individuals you will ever meet,” Parekh said. “My Amityville classmates embody the spirit of diversity and inclusion. We always looked out for one another, and we always wanted the best for each other.”

Parekh was born in New York after his parents immigrated from India. He recounted the countless sacrifices they made when he was a student. Parekh’s father served in the textile sales industry before losing his eyesight, and his mother held two jobs at one point. 

“My parents worked tirelessly to make ends meet,” Parekh said. “It is their work ethic and selfless dedication to our family that has inspired me to always give back to my community and help others.”  

After graduating from high school, Parekh attended The George Washington University, earning a degree with honors in economics and international affairs in 2003. Parekh says that a 1998 trip to the nation’s capital, which happened because of the support of the Amityville community, led to his decision to attend GW. In high school, then-Principal Anthony Servideo, along with the Amityville Rotary Club, helped Parekh raise tuition funds in order for him to attend a week-long civic education program that included a visit to the U.S. Supreme Court and other government institutions. 

After college, Parekh earned his juris doctor with honors from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2006. Parekh then served in a number of significant legal positions, including at a leading global law firm, as assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency, as counsel to IBM, and as a federal prosecutor in multiple positions at the U.S. Department of Justice, including as a counterterrorism prosecutor. 

Parekh received a superior performance award from the Justice Department for his work on United States v. Mohamad Jamal Khweis, which led to the 2017 conviction of the first individual to face a jury trial in the United States after having joined the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in ISIS territory. 

In January 2021, Parekh became the first person of color in the 232-year history of the Eastern District of Virginia to serve as its chief federal law enforcement official.

As for what he would like his tenure as the acting U.S. attorney to be most remembered for, Parekh stated, “Ensuring that all participants in the legal process are treated with dignity and respect as we seek equal justice under the law, uphold victims’ rights, and protect our communities. I am eternally grateful to my wife, son, parents and grandparents, whose love and support have meant everything to me.”

Published 02/22/2021

Monday, May 17, 2021