|United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York|
|Preceded by||Lev L. Dassin (acting)|
|Constituency||Southern District of New York|
|Born||1968 (age 44–45)
Ferozepur, Punjab, India
|Alma mater||Harvard University
Columbia University (J.D.)
Preetinder Singh "Preet" Bharara (born 1968) is an Indian American attorney and the current U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In 2012, Bharara was named by Time magazine as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World," and by India Abroad as its 2011 Person of the Year. Bharara was also featured on a cover of Time Magazine entitled "This Man is Busting Wall Street" for his office's prosecutions of insider trading and other financial fraud on Wall Street. Bharara was included in Bloomberg Markets Magazine’s 2012 “50 Most Influential” list as well as Vanity Fair’s 2012 and 2013 annual “New Establishment” lists. His brother is the entrepreneur who founded Diapers.com.
Early life and career
Bharara was born in 1968 in Firozpur, Punjab, India, to a Sikh father and Hindu mother. He grew up in Eatontown in suburban Monmouth County, New Jersey and attended Ranney School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1986. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1990 and Columbia Law School in 1993, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review.
Bharara served as the chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer and played a leading role in the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary investigation into the firings of United States attorneys. He was assistant United States Attorney in Manhattan for five years, bringing criminal cases against the bosses of the Gambino and Colombo crime families and Asian gangs in New York City.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
|This section is too long. Consider splitting it into new pages, adding subheadings, or condensing it. (July 2013)|
Bharara was nominated to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2009 and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He was sworn into the position on August 13, 2009.
In regards to the role of the prosecutor and the correct attitude of the prosecutor Mr. Bharara will ask all applicants to his office "How are you going to feel knowing that every day in your job, by definition of you doing your job correctly on the criminal side, you will basically be the proximate cause for, and responsible for, another human being losing his or her liberty for periods of time?" He continues, "From time to time, you get an applicant that is a little bit excited about that prospect. And takes some joy in that prospect. And they are a little too zealous about it. And you know what we do? We don't hire that person." "You don't want a justice system where you have prosecutors who are cowboys"
From 2009 to 2012 (and ongoing), Bharara's office oversaw the Galleon Group insider trading investigation against Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta, Anil Kumar and 60+ others. Rajaratnam was convicted at trial on 14 counts related to insider trading. Bharara is said to have "reaffirmed his office’s leading role in pursuing corporate crime with this landmark insider trading case, which relied on aggressive prosecutorial methods and unprecedented tactics." Bharara has often spoken publicly  and written an op-ed about the culture surrounding corporate crime and its effect on market confidence and business risk.
Bharara’s office worked together with the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC to secure a $7.2 billion settlement with the estate of Jeffrey Picower – the largest forfeiture in U.S. history. The money will be used to compensate victims of Madoff’s fraud. His office is also handling the criminal prosecutions of several employees at Madoff’s firm and their associates. The investigation remains ongoing.
National Security Cases
Bharara has said the office’s top priority is protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism, whether homegrown or foreign-based. During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, the office has prosecuted several international terrorists, and secured life sentences for Faisal Shazad, the Times Square Bomber, and Ahmed Ghailani, an Al Qaeda associate who was responsible for the mass murder of innocents at the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bharara’s office convicted Affia Siddiqui for attempting to kill American servicemen in Afghanistan as well as four men for plotting to blow up a synagogue in Riverdale. In February 2011, the first pirate in modern times, Abduwali Muse, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to more than 33 years in prison, following prosecution by the office. Bharara’s office is also prosecuting alleged associates of al-Shabaab, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Hizballah. According to Bharara, after 9/11 “as crime has gone global and national security threats are global, in my view the long arm of the law has to get even longer. We can’t wait until bombs are going off.”
On April 13, 2013, Bharara was on a list released by the Russian Federation of Americans banned from entering the country over their alleged human rights violations. The list was a direct response to the so-called Magnitsky list revealed by the United States the day before.
Bharara has said that “there is no prosecutor’s office in the state that takes more seriously the responsibility to root out public corruption in Albany and anywhere else that we might find it, and I think our record speaks for itself.” During his tenure, Bharara has charged several current and former elected officials in public corruption cases, including Senator Vincent Leibell, Senator Hiram Monserrate, NYC Councilman Larry Seabrook, and Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi. Bharara’s office uncovered an alleged corruption ring involving New York State Senator Carl Kruger. In April 2012, Kruger was sentenced to seven years in prison. In February 2011, Bharara announced the indictment of five consultants working on New York City’s electronic payroll and timekeeping project, CityTime, for misappropriating more than $80 million from the project. The investigation has expanded with five additional defendants being charged, including a consultant who allegedly received more than $5 million illegal kickbacks on the projects.
In early 2013, Mr. Bharara (with his assistant Hadassa Waxman) oversaw the conviction of New York City Police Department Officer Gilberto Valle, 28, who was part of an alleged plot to rape and then cook and eat (cannibalize) women. Mr. Bharara and his team argued that Valle had done more than hypothesize, think, or speculate (in online networks where such fantasies are discussed), but had moved on from being a possible danger to others to the criminal planning phase and had even visited the street where one of the women lived, at the behest of another defendant. However, the defense and others who objected to the verdict argued that all he had done was fantasize, not plan, and that such thoughts or online posts, however twisted, were still protected. The defense team (Robert Baum and Julia L. Gatto) may ask the judge to set aside the verdict, or may appeal. If he does keep the felony conviction and is sentenced, Valle would automatically no longer serve in law enforcement.
On April 2, 2013, Bharara unsealed federal corruption charges against New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and several other Republican party officials. The federal complaint alleged that Smith attempted to secure a spot on the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral election through bribery.
In January 2011, Bharara’s office participated in a multi-state organized crime takedown, charging 26 members of the Gambino crime family with racketeering, murder, narcotics, and firearms charges. This action was part of a coordinated effort with U.S. Attorney Offices in Brooklyn, New York, Newark, New Jersey and Providence, Rhode Island. Bharara has also overseen the largest criminal sweep of gangs in Newburgh, New York, working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies to bring charges against members of the Latin Kings and Bloods gangs, amongst others.
Complex Fraud and Cybercrime
Since entering office, Bharara renewed focus on sophisticated, large-scale frauds, creating a Complex Frauds Unit in the Criminal Division and a partner Civil Frauds Unit in the Civil Division to focus on these types of crimes. The Complex Frauds Unit has uncovered and prosecuted cases involving frauds of all kinds, including a massive fraud involving disability benefits at the Long Island Rail Road, an immigration fraud mill that operated through a Manhattan-based law firm, and a $57.3 million fraud on the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which administers programs established to aid the survivors of Nazi persecution. The Complex Frauds Unit is also uniquely situated to address the emerging threat of cybercrime. In November 2011, the Office charged seven defendants with operating an internet fraud scheme that infected more than four million computers worldwide and manipulated internet advertising business. In June 2012, The New York Times published an Op-Ed written by Bharara about the threat posed to private industry by cybercrime and encouraged corporate leaders to take preventative measures and create contingency plans. The Civil Frauds Unit has investigated and brought cases against Deutsche Bank and a subsidiary, Mortgage IT, as well as Allied Home Mortgage, for reckless and fraudulent lending practices. In February 2012, the office filed and simultaneously settled a civil fraud lawsuit against CitiMortgage. As part of the settlement, the bank admitted and accepted responsibility for failing to comply with certain HUD-related loan requirements and other conduct and agreed to pay the U.S. $158.3 million.
Bharara has also been very active in prosecutions related to online poker. In 2010, he "threatened an Australian payment processor with up to 75 years in prison for helping online poker companies do business with their U.S. customers." In April 2011, Bharara charged 11 founding members of internet gambling companies and their associates involved with pay processing with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). The case is United States v. Scheinberg. "Bharara does not claim online poker directly violates federal law, which prohibits the use of 'a wire communication facility' to accept bets 'on any sporting event or contest' but is silent on the legality of other online wagers. Instead he piggybacks on a New York statute that makes promoting 'unlawful gambling activity' a Class A misdemeanor. Bharara's indictment also mentions 'the laws of other states,' a few of which do explicitly ban online poker." He has been accused of seeking the "most expedient" cases to pursue, rather than the most serious, such as online poker and insider trading, and of taking "an alleged New York misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and turning it into multiple federal felonies".
Bank of America suit
On October 24, 2012, Mr. Bharara along with Federal prosecutors in Manhattan sued Bank of America for $1 billion, accusing the bank of carrying out a mortgage scheme that defrauded the government during the depths of the financial crisis. He brought the case with the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the government watchdog for the bank bailout program.
Bharara is a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan. At an October 2012 concert in Hartford, Connecticut, Springsteen shouted, “This is for Preet Bharara!” before launching into his song “Death to My Hometown.”
On May 19, 2013, Bharara delivered the commencement address at Fordham Law School's 106th Graduation Day at Radio City Music Hall. He was also presented with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Later that week, on May 23, 2013, Bharara delivered the commencement address at Columbia Law School, his alma mater. It was the 20th year reunion of his own graduation.
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- Lattman, Peter. "The Fabulous Bharara Boys", The New York Times, June 9, 2011. Accessed August 9, 2012. "He told the audience that he and his brother, who grew up in Eatontown, N.J., carved similar paths. Preet, 42, graduated from Harvard College; Vinnie, 39, the University of Pennsylvania."
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- Bharara, Preet (July 23, 2012). "Why Corporate Fraud Is So Rampant: Wall Street's Cop". CNBC.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Agreement to Recover $7.2 Billion for Victims of Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme from State of Jeffry M. Picower" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. December 17, 2010.
- "Prepared Remarks by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara". New York Financial Writers Association. CUNY School of Journalism. New York, New York. June 6, 2011.
- "Faisal Shahzad Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to Life in Prison for Attempted Times Square Bombing". Press Release. U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York. October 5, 2010.
- "Statement of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on the Sentencing of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. January 25, 2011.
- "Aafia Siddiqui Found Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court of Attempting to Murder U.S. Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional Charges" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. February 3, 2010.
- "Four Men Found Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court of Plotting to Bomb Synagogue and Jewish Community Center and to Shoot Military Planes with Stinger Missiles" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. October 18, 2010.
- "Somalian Pirate Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 405 Months in Prison for Hijacking Three Ships and for Hostage Taking" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. February 16, 2011.
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- "Former New York State Senator and Putnam County Executive-Elect Pleads Guilty in White Plains Federal Court to Obstruction of Justice and Tax Charges" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. December 6, 2010.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Former New York State Senator and New York City Council Member Hiram Monserrate with Conspiracy and Mail Fraud Crimes" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. October 19, 2010.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Bronx City Councilman with Public Corruption Crimes" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. February 9, 2010.
- "United States Attorney Charges Former Democratic Majority Leader of Yonkers City Council, Former Yonkers Republican Party Chief, and Attorney with Public Corruption Crimes" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. January 6, 2010.
- Glenza, Jessica. "Jury Finds Yonkers Officials Guilty in Corruption Trial". The Rivertowns Daily Voice. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Sandy Annabi holds 'head up high' as she enters prison". Newsday Westchester. March 4, 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Former New York State Senator Carl Kruger Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 7 Years in Prison for Bribery Schemes" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. April 26, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Four New Defendants in an Unprecedented Scheme to Defraud New York City in Connection with Citytime Project" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. June 20, 2011.
- WEISER, BENJAMIN; Daniel Krieger; Jack Styczynski (12 March 2013). "'Ugly Thoughts' Defense Fails; Officer Guilty in Cannibal Plot". New York Times. p. 3/13/13 N.Y. Times A1.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney And FBI Assistant Director-In-Charge Announce Federal Corruption Charges Against New York State Senator Malcolm Smith And New York City Council Member Daniel Halloran" (Press release). United States Department of Justice, US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 26 Gambino Crime Family Leaders, Members, and Associates on Racketeering, Murder, Narcotics, Firearms, and Other Charges" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. January 20, 2011.
- "United States Charges 78 Members and Associates of Newburgh Bloods and Latin Kings with Narcotics-Trafficking Crimes" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. March 13, 2010.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Pension Disability Fraud Charges Against Eleven Defendants Associated with the Long Island Railroad That Could Cost $1 Billion" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. October 27, 2011.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Twelve Defendants for Operating A Massive Immigration Fraud Mill Through a Manhattan Law Firm" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. October 11, 2011.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney and FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Announce Arrests of Eight Additional Defendants for Participating in $57.3 Million Fraud on Organization that Makes Reparations to Victims of Nazi Persecution" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. October 12, 2011.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Seven Individuals for Engineering Sophisticated Internet Fraud Scheme that Infected Millions of Computers Worldwide and Manipulated Internet Advertising Business" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. November 9, 2011.
- Bharara, Preet (June 4, 2012). "Asleep at the Laptop". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Sues Deutsche Bank and Subsidiary Mortgageit for Years of Reckless Lending Practices" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. May 3, 2011.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Sues Allied Home Mortgage, CEO, and Executive Vice President for Fraudulent Lending Practices Currently Associated with $834 Million in Insurance Claims Paid by HUD" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. November 1, 2011.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files and Simultaneously Settles Fraud Lawsuit Against Citimortgage, Inc. for Reckless Mortgage Lending Practices" (Press Release). U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. February 15, 2012.
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