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Obama nominates Miami-Dade lawyer for U.S. attorney

President Barack Obama Thursday nominated Miami-Dade native Wifredo Ferrer as the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

The position, which requires Senate confirmation, is among the most powerful of the 93 U.S. attorney's offices nationwide. The Miami post is also among the most demanding and sprawling -- with 290 prosecutors handling white-collar fraud, public corruption, drug-trafficking and human-smuggling cases from Key West to Fort Pierce.

"Ferrer's a terrific guy, very impressive," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny A. Breur, who was in Miami Thursday to address the American Bar Association's conference on white collar crime. "I think the world of him. You guys are lucky to have him."

Ferrer's résumé was an easy sell: He is a one-time federal prosecutor in Miami and is currently chief of Miami-Dade County's federal litigation section. He's also the former deputy chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

The son of Cuban immigrants also was valedictorian at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High, first in his class at the University of Miami, and president of his class at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

"First of all, he understood better than anybody I've worked with how the federal government works with local and state governments, " Reno said in an earlier interview. "If I wanted to write the book about how to be the U.S. attorney, Willy would be one of my models."

If confirmed by the Senate, Ferrer would replace U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman.

Ferrer, 43, married with two sons, would be the fourth lawyer of Cuban descent to fill the prominent job -- but the first appointed by a Democratic president.