Attorney General-Elect Josh Shapiro Thursday announced Michelle A. Henry, a 20-year veteran prosecutor, will serve as First Deputy Attorney General in the Office of Attorney General.
Henry will be the first woman to serve as First Deputy Attorney General in modern Pennsylvania history.
As First Deputy, Henry will be responsible for overseeing all legal, criminal and civil matters in the Office of Attorney General, and will report directly to the Attorney General.
Henry, 48, presently serves as First Assistant District Attorney in the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
In her career with the Bucks County DA’s Office, Michelle Henry has served in every possible role, including as an assistant D.A., deputy D.A., chief deputy, senior deputy, chief of major crimes and chief of child abuse.
In January 2008, Henry was appointed as Bucks County District Attorney by a bipartisan vote of the Bucks County Common Pleas bench, and served as DA for nearly two years. Ms. Henry is a native of Greensburg, Westmoreland County and graduate of Allegheny College and the Widener University School of Law.
“I am very pleased that Michelle agreed to join my team as First Deputy Attorney General,” Josh Shapiro said. “Throughout her exemplary career as a Pennsylvania prosecutor, she has tried every kind of tough case imaginable, making her extremely well qualified to take on this job. As the first woman to serve in this role in Commonwealth history, she’ll bring a new perspective to the job and ensure diversity in the Office of Attorney General, as I’ve promised.”
“It is an honor to have been selected by Attorney General-Elect Shapiro to serve as his First Deputy Attorney General,” Michelle Henry said. “Josh is a strong leader with integrity and vision, and I am excited to work with him and the dedicated staff of the Office of Attorney General to serve and protect the citizens of this great Commonwealth.”
During her lengthy career, Henry has prosecuted every type of crime, ranging from homicide to child abuse, robbery, burglary and drug cases.
In 2008, Henry re-tried to conviction Richard Laird for first-degree murder, after his original conviction and death sentence in a 1987 murder was overturned by a judge. Despite the passage of time, Henry obtained a death sentence for Laird in the brutal slaying of Anthony Milano, a gay artist, considered to be one of the first hate-crime prosecutions in Bucks County.
In another major felony case, Henry successfully tried and convicted Joshua Benson in the rapes of 10 women, resulting in a lengthy prison term.
While serving as Bucks County District Attorney, Henry was instrumental in the founding and creation of the Children’s Advocacy Center, a nonprofit agency that works with local law enforcement, victims’ advocates and health-care facilities to investigate and treat children who have been physically or sexually abused.
The Center’s overriding goal is to reduce trauma to children during their involvement with the judicial system.
“The Children’s Advocacy Center revolutionized how we respond to child abuse in Bucks County,” said Leslie Slingsby, the center’s founding executive director. “Michelle Henry was one of the leaders who made this happen. The Center makes children and their families a priority -- and it makes the professionals who work on their cases a team. It’s the best thing to happen in child protection in my career.”
As chairman of the PA Commission on Crime & Delinquency, Shapiro has made the expansion of child advocacy centers a priority throughout the Commonwealth.
“You will not ever see a better prosecutor – with better judgment – than Michelle Henry,” said Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub. “Bucks County’s grievous loss is Pennsylvania’s incredible gain.”
“Attorney General-Elect Shapiro could not have selected a more qualified or highly-regarded prosecutor than Michelle Henry to serve as First Deputy,” said Rich Long, executive director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. “Michelle brings extensive experience, tenacity, intelligence, compassion and nonpartisanship to this position. We congratulate the Attorney General-Elect on this outstanding appointment.”
The announcement of Michelle Henry’s appointment comes as Attorney General-Elect Shapiro continues his statewide transition tour of Pennsylvania cities and towns, Setting the People’s Priorities, prior to his swearing in on January 17, 2017.
In the last month, Shapiro has gone to Allentown to participate in a community forum on the heroin and opioid epidemic, to North Philadelphia for a forum on gun violence, and to Scranton earlier this week for a community meeting on financial scams and abuse of senior citizens.
Additional forums are planned for Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania in the coming weeks.“To be the People’s Attorney General you need to listen and know what’s happening outside the halls of government, and that’s how I intend to do the job,” Shapiro said. “We’re continuing this new approach to a transition process to put the people’s priorities first, like the seniors I met in West Scranton this week, concerned about scams against them. With these forums, I’m hearing the public’s concerns directly from Pennsylvanians, just like I’ve been doing all year.”
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Bucks Prosecutor To Be PA’s First Female AG Deputy