Gene Rossi, a former twenty-seven-year career federal prosecutor, is running for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Gene and his wife Diane have lived in Alexandria, Virginia, since 1989. They have three children--all proud “Titans” who have attended T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria.
Gene was born in 1956 in Middletown, Connecticut, where he grew up working in his family’s lumber business – a small company started by his father (Joseph T. Rossi, Sr.) in 1925 with a team of horses, a flatbed truck, and a portable sawmill. At age nine, Gene proudly received his first paycheck (25 cents an hour) from his father, who taught him the value of hard work. That first paycheck--$1.92 for one day’s work--hangs on the wall of Gene’s office today.
When he was ten, his father passed away very suddenly--leaving his mother (Alma Gerolami Rossi) to raise Gene and his three older brothers. For more than fifteen years, he worked alongside his brothers in the family business as a machinist, forklift operator, truck driver, and plant manager.
He went on to graduate from East Hampton High School (Connecticut), as well as Fairfield University (B.A.), before earning law degrees from American (J.D.) and Georgetown (LL.M.) Universities. After obtaining a law degree in 1982, Gene worked for several years as a Washington Representative for Connecticut Governor Bill O’Neill.
In 1989, Gene began his long career with the United States Justice Department. For twelve years, he worked as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Department’s Tax Division, including four years prosecuting organized crime drug enforcement task force (OCDETF) cases in the Alexandria Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia—a premiere office nationally known as “EDVA” and the “Rocket Docket.” From 2001-16, Gene was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in EDVA’s Alexandria Division. He served as Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Unit. And from 2005-16, he was Chief of the Specials Unit, where he managed an intense courtroom training program for over 400 mostly first-time prosecutors from the Justice Department, other federal agencies, and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.
In his twenty-seven years with the Justice Department, he was a prolific litigator with over 110 federal trials (90 jury) in United States district and bankruptcy courts. In EDVA alone,
Gene had a remarkable 65 felony jury trials—a record for its Alexandria Division, if not for the entire Eastern District.
His notable cases included a major tax trial against a Chicago Alderman, an OCDETF trial against a prolific murderer (close to 40 deaths), and the prosecution of the Commanding General of the African Union (54 nations)--and the former President of Guinea--who pleaded guilty to charges of false statements and smuggling cash into the United States that he had illegally received while still the leader of Guinea.
Gene was also the lead counsel in two complex criminal trials involving a nationally renowned chronic pain doctor--who intentionally prescribed 1,200 oxycodone pills daily to just one patient—with a formidable defense team of 30 attorneys. The doctor’s conviction was a significant achievement for OCDETF Operation “Cotton Candy” --the largest investigation of prescription pill trafficking (over 235 convictions) in United States history. A Hollywood documentary (“Dr. Feelgood”) about Gene’s two trials, “Cotton Candy,” and the national opioid epidemic was released in June 2016.
Gene has received many awards and commendations for his courtroom skills and was often in the vanguard of important criminal justice issues. From 2011-16, he served alongside federal judges and defense counsel in EDVA’s new SCORE Program--an innovative second-chance drug court--which employed novel approaches to addressing critical reentry issues, such as addiction, mental health, recidivism, and employment.
When Gene retired from the Justice Department in 2016, he was honored to receive the FBI Washington Field Office’s Career Achievement Award -- the first time the award had ever been given to a prosecutor.
Teaching and Community Involvement
Gene was a sought-after speaker and teacher throughout his Justice Department career. He trained thousands of federal prosecutors and agents--inside and outside the United States, as well as at the Department’s National Advocacy Center. In addition, he was a trial advocacy instructor at Harvard Law School, a legal writing adjunct at American University Law School, and has taught criminal procedure at George Mason University. From 2009-16, he was on the board of directors of D.C. Law Students In Court--a five-school consortium that provided legal aid to tenants and indigent criminal defendants. Gene also serves on the board of Friends of Guest House--an Alexandria-based reentry program that helps 100 Northern Virginia women transition from confinement back into the community. Gene has a passion for basketball. He has coached youth and AAU basketball and has been Commissioner of “Hoop Madness” --a large group of basketball enthusiasts (over 200) of all ages and walks of life that plays outdoors all year.
In 2015, the Town of East Hampton, Connecticut, inducted Gene into its Athletic Hall of Fame based mainly on being selected All-State basketball by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association and for his 1,300 career points in high school.