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First woman to lead state's top law office sworn in

Published June 04. 2011 09:05AM

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Linda L. Kelly took the oath of office Friday, May 27, during a private ceremony in Harrisburg, officially assuming the powers and duties of Pennsylvania's top law enforcement officer.

Kelly has been a prosecutor for more than 30 years, serving as both an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County and most recently as senior litigation counsel as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Kelly was nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett on Feb. 8 to succeed Corbett as Attorney General. Her nomination was unanimously confirmed by the state Senate on May 23, and Kelly will serve as Attorney General through January 2013.

Kelly is the first woman to lead the Office of Attorney General since it became an independent elected office in 1981 and Kelly is only the second woman to ever serve as Pennsylvania's Attorney General.

The attorney general is the Commonwealth's top law enforcement officer, directing criminal investigations involving narcotics trafficking, organized crime, public corruption, insurance fraud and other statewide concerns. The office is also responsible for enforcing consumer protection and other civil statutes and defends Pennsylvania laws and state agencies.

The Office of Attorney General employs approximately 750 prosecutors, attorneys, agents, investigators and support staff, with 20 regional offices across the state.

Kelly began her career in the mid-1970s as an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County, joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1980. She was twice named acting U.S. Attorney, first for 15 months through October 1998 and then for five months in 2001.

Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Attorney's Office created a national security section within its criminal division. Kelly has served as antiterrorism coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh and as liaison to other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the district.

In addition, Kelly has handled the prosecution of a variety of other crimes including racketeering, narcotics cases and illegal gambling operations. She has prosecuted and supervised a number of cases based on investigations by the Internal Revenue Service, Postal Inspector and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Kelly is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English, and the Duquesne University School of Law.

She and her husband, Paul, are the parents of a daughter, Kate, who is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

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