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SDNY Prosecutors, Alumni Sitting Preet-ty

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  • SDNY Prosecutors, Alumni Sitting Preet-ty

    It’s a good time to be a prosecutor at the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, and it’s an even better time to be an alumnus of the “Sovereign District,” as the office is nicknamed.

    At least some of the credit goes to the top prosecutor in that office, Preet Bharara (pictured). (See a WSJ profile of him here.)

    First of all, current SDNY prosecutors are busy with several high-profile white-collar cases, including Madoff, Galleon, Nemazee and Portillo, among many others. And earlier this week, in what is considered big news in Gotham, the office’s work led to the indictment of New York City Councilman Larry B. Seabrook on public corruption-related charges, to which he pleaded not guilty. They’re also working on some cool-sounding probes, like this one.

    But it’s the recent promotions of SDNY prosecutors to higher corridors of legal power — from judgeships to executive positions at other agencies — that has the alumni and other white-collar attorneys buzzing.

    “The recent wave of Southern District prosecutors moving into high positions in government seems unprecedented,” says David Siegal of Haynes and Boone LLP, who left SDNY last year. “Even the alumni, who are accustomed to watching some of their former colleagues ascend, are impressed with the current numbers,” he says.

    Earlier this week Sen. Chuck Schumer recommended to the president that SDNY’s chief of securities fraud unit, Raymond Lohier, 44 years old, be nominated to fill a vacancy on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals left by now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

    We’re not saying Lohier’s boss, Bharara, had anything to do with the Schumer pick, but it probably didn’t hurt that Bharara worked for Schumer for several years on Capitol Hill before he became U.S. attorney.

    Schumer, in case you were wondering, can influence political appointments of prosecutors and judges because he is on the Senate’s judiciary committee and is the ranking senator from New York.

    A little over a year ago, then-assistant U.S. attorney at SDNY, Neil Barofsky, was elevated to stardom by becoming Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In other words, he’s keeping a watchful eye over government aid to the financial sector. Barofsky, who is one of the funniest public speakers the Law Blog has ever seen, is now a regular fixture in the news.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission has been taken over by former SDNY assistant U.S. attorneys: Rob Khuzami is the director of enforcement based in Washington, with Lorin Reisner as his No. 2. And George Canellos, who made an appearance earlier this week in “BacMerSaga,” runs the enforcement efforts at the agency’s New York office.

    While working for Schumer on the judiciary committee between 2005 and 2009, Bharara helped vet judicial candidates. In 2007, Richard Sullivan, who is in his forties and was an SDNY prosecutor until 2005, became a U.S. district court judge in Manhattan. (So far, he’s infamous for making this ruling.)

    In 2008, Cathy Seibel, who was then the No. 2 prosecutor at SDNY, also became a U.S. district court judge in Manhattan.

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