Favorites: Joseph Persichini Jr.

Persichini took over one of law enforcement’s most challenging positions in November when he became assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office.

By: Garrett M. Graff

Born in Buffalo, Persichini joined the FBI in 1976 as an accountant at the DC headquarters and then became a special agent in the Alexandria field office in 1980.

After a career spent largely on public-corruption cases, Persichini now oversees 777 special agents and 731 support staff and analysts in Washington and Virginia whose cases range from homeland security and terrorism to bank robberies and the Jack Abramoff investigation.

Your favorite spot in Washington?
The Tidal Basin at sunrise during cherry-blossom season.

Favorite pastime? Cooking traditional Italian family recipes passed down from generation to generation.

Favorite television show? The Food Network, in general.

Favorite cop show?
The Andy Griffith Show.

Favorite movie? Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Favorite book? The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

What’s on your shelf now? The FBI Story, Lincoln on Leadership, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, Donnie Brasco, Winning by Jack Welch, and City for Sale by Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett.

What’s your favorite case from your career? A public-corruption case that I worked while in the FBI’s New York office. It involved the millions of dollars in parking fees that were being diverted to corrupt public officials. The case, which resulted in the conviction of five high-level city officials, including the New York deputy mayor, was personally prosecuted by then-US Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

Your most intriguing experience with the FBI? I was sent to Moscow after the fall of Communism to train the Russian police. While I was there, I witnessed the first Christian Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior since the reign of Stalin. Experiencing this emotional event highlighted the true meaning of freedom.

Your favorite sport? Soccer—although I have never played it. My two daughters have been playing soccer since they were four years old. They are now both playing Division I college soccer.

Your favorite vacation spot? Definitely an area I need to work on—but taking the family to New York City and visiting Ellis Island to see our family name on the wall is top of the list.

Your favorite food? What else? Italian.

Favorite meal? My mother’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs.

Favorite restaurant? Clyde’s of Gallery Place.

Favorite object you own? My father’s Kodak Brownie Junior Box Camera he used during World War II to take photos out of the bomb-bay doors of a B-17.

Historical figure you would most like to meet? Leonardo da Vinci, a true visionary who had the ability to document his observations, both artistically and scientifically.

Things that others would find surprising about you? My passion for providing a future and hope to the youth of our community. On October 28, the Washington field office received the Community Service Award of the Year from the DC Chamber of Commerce—a result of the great work performed by the men and women of WFO in mentoring area youth.

Your proudest accomplishment? Balancing family and career. This summer I celebrated my 30th anniversary with the FBI and my 25th wedding anniversary with my wife, Joleen.

What makes Washington so special? Washington to me represents the birth and strength of our nation. There’s an unlimited number of things to experience in the city, including the many memorials, museums, and performing-arts events. There are very few places in the world that offer the array of cultural and higher-education opportunities as those in this great city.