Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons: Who Is Susan Coppedge Amato?
Susan Coppedge Amato, an assistant U.S. attorney based in Atlanta, was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 8, 2015, as Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in the Department of State. The job comes with the rank of Ambassador at Large.
Coppedge Amato is from Dalton, Georgia. Her father, Warren Coppedge Jr., was an attorney who once served as a deputy assistant Attorney General for the state of Georgia. Coppedge Amato graduated from Dalton High School and earned a BA in political science from Duke University in 1988. She went on to attend law school at Stanford, earning her JD in 1993. Upon graduation, she clerked for U.S. District Judge William O’Kelley, who served in the Northern District of Georgia.
Coppedge Amato joined the Justice Department in 1995, first as a trial attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Section. In 1999, she joined the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, first as a special assistant U.S. Attorney and beginning in 2001 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Coppedge Amato began to focus on human trafficking cases. In 2002, she and another prosecutor used the federal racketeering laws (RICO) to convict 15 pimps who targeted children aged 12 to 17. In 2006, Coppedge Amato began a Fulbright New Zealand Ian Axford fellowship, working out of the Ministry of Justice in New Zealand to study how it deals with the problem. She produced a report: “People Trafficking: An International Crisis Fought at the Local Level.”
Upon her return, Coppedge Amato continued to prosecute human trafficking cases. One of her most prominent was the successful prosecution of pro wrestler Harrison Norris Jr., aka “Hardbody Harrison,” who kept eight women as sex slaves in his Georgia home, forcing them into prostitution.
She also has worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the development of a database for tracking human trafficking prosecutions and has trained law enforcement in Thailand and Argentina to combat human trafficking.
In early 2015, Coppedge Amato was chosen as one of 25 candidates to be interviewed for judgeships in DeKalb County, Georgia. A few months later, President Barack Obama nominated her to the TIP post. She sailed through easily, perhaps because she had Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on her side. He applauded her nomination saying, “Her firsthand experience working with law enforcement officials and foreign governments to bring justice to countless victims will serve her well in this position.”
Coppedge Amato is married to Lorenzo Amato. They have a daughter, Lilliana, and a son, Sebastian.
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