Scholar alumnus serves 70-county district as top-ranking federal law enforcement official

April 12, 2021

Peter Leary, the J. Mack Robinson Jefferson Scholar, came to U.Va. in 1996 from Watkinsville, Georgia as a high school athlete, writer, and tutor with a passion for studying Latin. Not long after he matriculated at the University, it was clear that he would carve out a new niche for himself. The opportunity to serve on U.Va.’s Honor Committee offered him a breadth of first-time experiences. He was able to adjudicate honor cases, counsel students, and even teach a one-credit seminar to his peers on ethics and integrity—all of which ultimately instilled in him an interest in law and led him to pursue his J.D. at U.Va.’s Law School.

Today, Peter is the Acting U.S. Attorney for Middle Georgia, making him the top-ranking federal law enforcement official for the district, which includes 70 counties and a total population of more than 2 million. Under his leadership, his office helps to prosecute federal crimes related to terrorism, public corruption, child exploitation, fraud, and illegal gangs.

“Receiving the Jefferson Scholarship led me to U.Va. and ultimately to my career,” said Peter, “which is, in part, why I consider my debt to the Foundation a lifelong one.”

Over the last 20 years, Peter has embodied what it means to be a true leader and citizen, not only through his work fighting for justice in Georgia, but also through his unwavering commitment to the Foundation and the University. He continues to help the Foundation fulfill its mission to recruit outstanding scholars to U.Va. as the co-chair of the Atlanta, Georgia Region, where he interviews prospective students from Georgia and encourages them to attend the University.

“I’ve been honored to serve alongside my fellow alumni to help bring extremely talented leaders to the University,” he said.

Peter also serves as an adjunct professor at Mercer University in Macon, where he teaches Introduction to Criminal Justice. 


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