Reuters by Jonathan Stempel - August 17, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Preet Bharara, the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, on Monday elevated several prosecutors to senior positions, after he earlier this month took over one of the nation's top law enforcement jobs. Boyd Johnson, who handled a probe of a prostitution ring used by former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, was named deputy U.S. attorney, the office's No. 2 official. Johnson was previously chief of the office's public corruption and international narcotics and trafficking units, and joined the office in 1999. Four people pleaded guilty in connection with the prostitution ring, known as Emperors Club VIP. Spitzer was not charged, but resigned as governor last year after his name surfaced in the scandal. Raymond Lohier was named chief of the criminal division's securities and commodities fraud task force. He was previously deputy chief of that unit, and oversaw the narcotics unit. Lohier was among those involved in the prosecution of Marc Dreier, a lawyer sentenced last month to 20 years in prison for a $400 million investment fund fraud. Miriam Rocah was named chief of the criminal division's organized crime unit. Previously, she was deputy chief of that unit and the narcotics unit. She joined the office in 2001. Daniel Stein, who joined the office in 2003, was named chief of the criminal division's public corruption unit. He previously worked in that unit as well as in the international narcotics trafficking unit.
In a statement, Bharara said: "These exceptional attorneys have distinguished themselves as fair, tenacious and respected prosecutors." Bharara is a former chief counsel to Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and helped oversee a congressional investigation into the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006. Lev Dassin had been acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York since late last year. Dassin left the office this month, a spokeswoman for the office said, and it was not immediately clear what his future plans were. The office handles federal cases in Manhattan, Bronx and six other counties in southeast New York state. Its case load has in recent months included convicted swindler Bernard Madoff and his $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Among Bharara's predecessors as U.S. attorney are Robert Morgenthau, now the Manhattan district attorney, and Rudolph Giuliani, who later became mayor of New York City and a Republican candidate for U.S. president. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
First thing’s first this morning: A big LB shout-out to the SDNY prosecutors. We’ve been so wrapped up with Spitzer’s fancy defense team, Don Buchwald’s assignment of the century, and, courtesy of the NY Post, this morning’s revelation that “Kristen” sports a belly tattoo that reads “tutela valui” (”fair value” in Latin), that we forgot all about the government lawyers working the other side of what might be the most high-profile prostitution bust of all time. Thanks to LB colleague Amir Efrati, we can shine a light on Boyd M. Johnson III, the head of the public-corruption unit at the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which last week brought the case against four defendants on prostitution and money-laundering charges. Johnson, 40, prosecuted a number of high-profile international drug figures — such as Afghan heroin kingpin Baz Mohammad — before being appointed to jump-start the public-corruption unit in 2006, the report says. Incidentally, the same unit was once run by Michele Hirshman, the Paul Weiss partner who’s now representing Spitzer.
As a former chief of the international narcotics-trafficking unit of the U.S. attorney’s office and in his current role, Johnson developed close ties to FBI agents, including those in the agency’s public-corruption squad in New York, known as C14, which investigated the prostitution ring. Those relationships are important because agents can bring cases to prosecutors in multiple districts. Johnson, a married father of two, is a Connecticut native who graduated from Hamilton College and Cornell Law School. He joined Gibson Dunn in the mid-1990’s after a federal-judicial clerkship in California. Randy Mastro, a Gibson Dunn partner and the former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani, supervised Johnson as an associate, and says that, when the “young star” was considering a move to the U.S. attorney’s office, he tried to convince him to stay by telling him he had a good chance of making partner. He says Johnson responded that being a prosecutor “is just something I really want to do.” Mastro added: “He’s a very affable guy, but don’t let that affability fool you — he’s a very tenacious, determined litigator.”