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Trump nominates Charlotte attorney to federal judgeship in western NC

Ken Bell

President Donald Trump has nominated a former federal prosecutor and current Charlotte-area attorney to fill a judicial vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

Kenneth Bell is a partner at the Charlotte office of McGuireWoods, which has locations across the world. He practices in the area of government investigations and white collar litigation, according to his online profile.

“I am deeply honored that President Trump has nominated me to serve the people of the Western District of North Carolina, and I am grateful to Senators Burr and Tillis for recommending me to the president,” he said in an email Tuesday.

The judicial seat in the Western District became vacant at the end of August when Judge Richard Voorhees took senior status on the court, a form of semi-retirement.

Trump announced Bell’s nomination Tuesday:

If confirmed, Kenneth D. Bell of North Carolina will serve as a District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Ken Bell is a partner in the Charlotte office of McGuireWoods LLP, where he represents clients on a variety of matters involving white collar crimes and business-related investigations. For the past five and a half years, he has served as the Federal court-appointed receiver over the largest Ponzi scheme in history as measured by number of victims (more than 800,000). Prior to joining McGuireWoods, Mr. Bell was a partner at Hunton & Williams LLP and Mayer Brown LLP. Previously, he served for ten years as first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, and for eight years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In 2003, Mr. Bell received the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation after securing the first conviction for material support to a terrorist organization against the leader of a Hezbollah cell operating in Charlotte. Mr. Bell earned his B.A. from Wake Forest University and his J.D. from the Wake Forest University School of Law.

Bell was the Republican Nominee in 1990 for the U.S. House of Representatives, North Carolina Fifth Congressional District. A 2015 Business NC article states he washed his hands of politics after losing that bid for office.

Most of the publicity about Bell, who grew up in Winston-Salem, centers on his work as a receiver in the ZeekRewards case, a defunct Ponzi scheme. As a receiver, Bell is tasked with marshaling and preserving ZeekRewards assets.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported in March that as of Dec. 31, Bell had recovered $371.2 million and disbursed $344.7 million to eligible victims in the ZeekRewards case.

This is Trump’s second federal judicial nominee to the North Carolina bench. He nominated Thomas Farr, a well-known Republican Party attorney, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina — which has the nation’s longest running federal judicial vacancy.

Farr’s nomination has been vehemently opposed by Democrats and court advocates and is still pending.

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