National News

U.S. Attorneys Named in 17 Districts, Including Brooklyn and Manhattan

Posted January 3, 2018 9:32 p.m. EST

NEW YORK — Attorney General Jeff Sessions has named interim U.S. attorneys in Brooklyn and Manhattan, two of the country’s most prominent federal prosecutors’ offices, replacing lawyers who had served as top deputies to Obama appointees.

On Friday, Geoffrey S. Berman, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, will take over the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York from Joon H. Kim, who assumed control of the office in March after the longtime U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, was fired by President Donald Trump. Richard P. Donoghue, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, will replace Bridget M. Rohde in the top job in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.

Craig Carpenito, who once worked as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey, will serve as the interim U.S. attorney for New Jersey, according to the Justice Department, which on Wednesday announced a total of 17 U.S. attorney appointments, including in Minnesota, Rhode Island and Central Florida.

Typically, the White House acts in the first months of an administration to fill many of the country’s 93 U.S. attorney’s offices. But Trump has waited so long in making his choices for several districts, including those based in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Newark, that their acting leaders were running against a legal limit of 300 days in office. Even though Berman and Donoghue were appointed by Sessions under special executive authority, they were widely considered to be Trump’s top choices. They will serve in their interim roles for either 120 days or until they are formally nominated.

Until recently, Berman, 58, was a co-managing shareholder of the New Jersey office of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which has a tradition of hiring Republican luminaries like Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. A longtime New Jersey resident who now lives in New York, Berman worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan from 1990 to 1994 and was best known for having prosecuted a cutting-edge computer crimes case against a group of hackers known as the Masters of Deception.

Before joining the office that he will now lead, Berman was hired by Lawrence E. Walsh to serve in the independent counsel’s office in Washington when it was investigating the Iran-Contra affair. As a private lawyer, he has helped to run a court-appointed monitorship of a New York City carpenters’ union that had been infiltrated by the mob, and has overseen several complex civil litigations.

From 1993 to 1995, Donoghue, served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and spent the next five years on active duty in the Army’s Judge Adjutant General Corps where he worked as a prosecutor, judge and defense lawyer. His most recent job was as the chief counsel for litigation at CA Technologies, a computer software and systems company in Midtown Manhattan.

In 2000, Donoghue went to work as a federal prosecutor on Long Island, which, like Brooklyn, sits within the Eastern District of New York. There, he worked on several cases related to the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, an organization that Trump has attacked in speeches and singled out for prosecution. Before leaving the Brooklyn prosecutors’ office in 2011, Donoghue rose to become the chief of its criminal division.

“Today, I am appointing someone as interim United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York who has tremendous experience prosecuting MS-13: Richard Donoghue,” Sessions said in a separate statement announcing his appointment. “Every MS-13 member in Long Island should know, Richard Donoghue will use all the tools at his disposal to get criminals off our streets.”

Former colleagues described Donoghue as a stoic, serious man with a strong independent streak.

“Rich is a terrific choice for U.S. attorney,” said Jim Walden, a onetime federal prosecutor who worked with him in Brooklyn. “He is extremely experienced and has great judgment. More importantly, he is a rock solid guy, who will act independently. He is no one’s ‘yes man.'”