John G. Koeltl

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John Koeltl
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Assumed office
August 10, 1994
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Shirley Wohl Kram
Personal details
Born 1945 (age 70–71)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Georgetown University
Harvard University School of Law

John George Koeltl (born 1945) is a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. His surname is pronounced "KOLE-t'l."


Koeltl was born in New York City. He graduated from Regis High School in New York City in 1963. He then studied history at Georgetown University and then obtained his law degree from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating from law school Koeltl served as a law clerk for Judge Edward Weinfeld of the Southern District of New York and then for Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Legal career[edit]

Koeltl then worked briefly in the office of the Watergate special prosecutor before entering private law practice in New York. For several years, Koeltl was a partner at the New York law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton. During these years, Koeltl served on several committees of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and American Bar Association and was the author of several published articles on securities law and other topics.

Judicial service[edit]

In 1994, President Bill Clinton nominated Koeltl as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, a position he still holds today.

Notable decisions[edit]

Judge Koeltl is known for his October 2006 decision to sentence civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart to 28 months in prison for providing material assistance to a terrorist, her client, 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman, by secretly passing messages to his radical followers in Egypt. Koeltl rejected the prosecutors' recommendation of 30 years.[1] The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Koeltl to reconsider whether that sentence was too light and to take into account the government's arguments that she had committed perjury at her trial and abused her position as a lawyer. On remand, Koeltl cited remarks Stewart had made after being sentenced that indicated a lack of remorse. He changed the sentence to 10 years in prison.[2][3]

In 2011, he presided over the case involving Raffaello Follieri, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and money laundering in connection with purchases of property from the Catholic Church. The Follieri case received significant media scrutiny due to his relationship with celebrities, notably Anne Hathaway and several politicians, including former president Bill Clinton [4] and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain.[5] Koeltl also presided over a case brought by Citigroup against Wells Fargo to halt the latter's purchase of Wachovia, which Citi had earlier announced plans to purchase.[6] The litigation settled in 2010.[7]


  1. ^ Preston, Julia (October 17, 2006). "Lawyer, Facing 30 Years, Gets 28 Months, to Dismay of U.S.". New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2009. 
  2. ^ Eligon, John (July 15, 2010). "Sentence Is Sharply Increased for Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terror". New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (June 28, 2012). "10-Year Sentence for Lawyer in Terrorism Case Is Upheld". New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ Emshwiller, John R.; Bray, Chad (September 11, 2008). "Follieri Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case". The Wall Street Journal. 
  5. ^ "September 29, 2008". Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ Dash, Eric (October 6, 2008). "Weekend Legal Frenzy Between Citigroup and Wells Fargo for Wachovia". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ Kulikowski, Lauri (19 November 2010). "Citi, Wells Fargo Settle Wachovia Suit". The Street. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 


Legal offices
Preceded by
Shirley Wohl Kram
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York