Dexter Lehtinen

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Dexter Lehtinen
Dexter Lehtinen 2.jpg
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
In office
June 1988 – January 1992
President Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Leon Kellner
Succeeded by James McAdams (Acting), Roberto Martinez
Member of the Florida Senate
from the 40th district
In office
January 3, 1987 – June 11, 1988
Preceded by Roberta F. Fox
Succeeded by Javier Souto
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 118th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Charlie Hall
Succeeded by Bob Starks
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 116th district
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by Gene Flinn
Succeeded by Art Simon
Personal details
Born Dexter Wayne Lehtinen
(1946-03-23) March 23, 1946 (age 72)
Homestead, Florida, U.S.[1]
Political party Republican (1985–present)
Other political
Democratic (1980–1985)
Spouse(s) Donna L. Stevenson (divorced)
Ileana Adato (1984-present)
Children 4, including Rodrigo
Alma mater University of Miami, Columbia University, and Stanford Law School
Profession Attorney

Dexter Wayne Lehtinen (born March 23, 1946) is an American attorney, former politician, interim U.S. Attorney for south Florida and a law professor. He is the husband of U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Early life and education[edit]

Lehtinen is of Finnish ancestry. He graduated from the University of Miami in 1968 magna cum laude with a BA. He then graduated with an MA from Columbia University and an MBA in 1974. In 1975, he graduated first in his class from Stanford Law School. He was the Commander of the Corps of Cadets a member of the Iron Arrow Honor Society and president of the Florida Federation of College Young Republicans. He received a Purple Heart in 1971 for severe facial injuries during the Vietnam War.[1][2]

Florida legislature[edit]

Dexter Lehtinen, Celia Cruz, Alonso R. del Portillo, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, and Pedro Knight in May 1992

In 1980, Lehtinen ran for the Miami-based-116th District of the Florida House of Representatives. In the Democratic primary, he qualified for the run off with 44% of the vote in a three candidate race.[3] In the September primary runoff he defeated incumbent State Representative Gene Flinn.[3] In the general election, he defeated Republican nominee Chris Ferrer with 51% of the vote.[4] In 1982, he won re-election, in the newly redrawn 118th district with 65%.[5] In 1984, he won re-election unopposed.

In February 1985, he left the Democratic Party to become a Republican. This was only a few months before he married Republican State Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Lehtinen and his wife were both elected in 1986 to the Florida Senate, He was elected in District 40 and she was elected in District 34.[1][6]

U.S. Attorney for South Florida[edit]

In June 1988, he resigned his Florida Senate seat after Attorney General of the United States Edwin Meese took a "high-risk gamble"[7] in naming Lehtinen to succeed Leon Kellner as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.[8][9][10][11][12][13] His three biggest cases during his 3 ½ year tenure were the cases of former Panama leader Manuel Noriega,[14][15][16] religious sect leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh,[17] and of Hialeah Mayor Raul L. Martinez.[18]

The U.S. Senate refused to act on his nomination and Lehtinen on January 13, 1992, called a news conference to announce his resignation.[19] Lehtinen said his departure had nothing to do with a well-publicized internal Justice Department investigation of him because of the Martinez case.[20][21][22][23][24] The Justice Department opened a case against Mr. Lehtinen on charges of "misconduct" and potential conflicts of interest for investigating "a potential political rival of his wife."[25][26][27][28][29]

Post U.S. Attorney career[edit]

Lehtinen served as the general counsel for the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida Indians[30] until May 2010.[31] In November 2011, the same tribe filed a lawsuit against Lehtinen for alleged malpractice regarding tax advice.[32] He also was a professor at University of Miami School of Law and at Florida International University.

Personal life[edit]

He married Florida State Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, on June 9, 1984, while they were both serving in the Florida House of Representatives. They have two children, Rodrigo and Patricia Marie. He was previously married to Donna L. Stevenson and had two children with her, Katharine Natasha and Douglas Hooper.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d 86-88 Senate Handbook.qxd
  2. ^ The Miami Herald; U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen Fought In Vietnam. But Did He Win His Battle?; February 25, 1990, Page 1G
  3. ^ a b "Our Campaigns - FL State House 116 - D Primary Race - Sep 09, 1980". 
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - FL District 116 Race - Nov 04, 1980". 
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns - FL State House 118 Race - Nov 02, 1982". 
  6. ^ The Miami Herald; Senator called A Brainy Tough Guy; June 11, 1988, Page 1A
  7. ^ The Miami Herald; A High-Risk Candidate; June 14, 1988, Page 14A
  8. ^ The Miami Herald; Possible Candidates Emerge For U.S. Attorney; May 12, 1988, Page 1D
  9. ^ El Nuevo Herald; Lehtinen; Un Nuevo Estilo; August 30, 1989, Page 1B
  10. ^ The Miami Herald; Tyrant Or Target?; February 24, 1991, Page 8
  11. ^ The Washington Post; Between Politics and Professionalism: One Prosecutor's Tenure and Tactics Series: The Appearance of Justice; January 14, 1993
  12. ^ The Miami Herald; Bush Said To Be Ready To Nominate Lehtinen After 20-Month Delay; February 28, 1990, Page 1A
  13. ^ The Miami Herald; Source: Lehtinen Was A Ticklish Political Problem; January 19, 1992, Page 1B
  14. ^ The Los Angeles Times; Noriega's Lawyers Seek Dismissal of U.S. Drug-Trafficking Charges; Sep 16, 1988, Page 8
  16. ^ The Washington Post; The Case of Noriega's Prosecutor In Miami, the Very Public Slide of Dexter Lehtinen; February 7, 1990
  17. ^ The Miami Herald; NORIEGA, YAHWEH CASES SHAPE LEHTINEN LEGACY; January 14, 1992, Page 4A
  18. ^ The Miami Herald; Witness Hints At Politics Behind Martinez Probe; February 15, 1991, Page 1B
  19. ^ The Miami Herald; Top-Level Report Forced Lehtinen From U.S. Post Prosecutor Negotiated Details of His Departure; January 16, 1992, Page 1A
  20. ^ The Miami Herald; San Pedro Cleared of Lying To Jury; November 30, 1991, Page 1B
  21. ^ The Miami Herald; POLITICS FUELED PROBE, MARTINEZ LAWYERS SAY; November 3, 1990, Page 1B
  22. ^ The Miami Herald; IS MARTINEZ AN EXTORTIONIST OR JUST A VICTIM OF POLITICS?; March 22, 1996, Page 2B
  24. ^ The Miami Herald; Lehtinen Didn’t Target Martinez, Witness Says Cardoso Backs Away From Testimony; February 20, 1991, Page 1B
  25. ^ 1/21/08 - "Neither Lehtinen nor Ros Lehtinen responded to Herald phone calls for comment" (The Miami Herald)
  26. ^ 2/17/91-"Timing of investigation raises questions about 'the motivation of the prosecution'" (The Miami Herald)
  27. ^ 2/17/91 - "Lehtinen declined to comment about the timing of the investigation." (The Miami Herald)
  28. ^ 2/15/91 – "Lehtinen wanted to neutralize Martinez as a political rival of his wife, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen" (The Miami Herald)
  29. ^ 4/20/90 – "Justice Investigating Miami U.S. Attorney for Misconduct" (The Miami Herald)
  30. ^ Seminole Tribune ; Aiming For A Compact ; November 20, 1998
  31. ^ Stapleton, Christine (14 May 2010). "Former U.S. Attorney Lehtinen steps down as Miccosukee Everglades lawyer". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  32. ^ Weaver, Jay (November 29, 2011). "Miccosukee Indians sue their ex-lawyer, Dexter Lehtinen, for malpractice". Miami Herald. Retrieved November 30, 2011.