Next court appearance Friday for Yonkers corruption defendants

tjndc5-5rb7zpgc3ew12qfzvdfc_thumbnailJust got word that the three defendants in the Yonkers corruption case are going to be in court Friday for their first appearance before the judge who will handle their case, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon.

Sandy Annabi (pictured left), Anthony Mangone, and Zehy Jereis have a 2:15 conference scheduled in McMahon’s Manhattan courtroom Friday afternoon. The appearance is in Manhattan because McMahon is assigned to the federal courthouse at 500 Pearl St. But she has been taking on cases based at the White Plains courthouse due to a backlog created by the deaths of judges Charles Brieant and Wiliam Conner.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel was appointed to replace Brieant. But she is limited in the number of criminal cases she can handle because of her previous gig as a high-ranking member of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Seibel was the number two person in the U.S. Attorney’s office, serving as then-U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia’s chief deputy. Seibel cannot oversee cases that started as investigations while she was still in the U.S. attorney’s office. The Yonkers case began in March 2007, more than a year before Seibel was nominated to the federal bench.

There’s no indication that the Yonkers case will be moved to Manhattan. McMahon sits in the White Plains courthouse one Friday a month, and future court appearances will probably be timed to that schedule. McMahon also has the high-profile terrorism case involving four Newburgh men charged with trying to blow up synagogues in the Bronx. That case has remained in the White Plains courthouse.

There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name…

…is not Reggie Hammond.
It’s Preet Bharara.
Bharara, 40, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the highest-profile and (many would say) most important federal district in the nation.
Bharara has been chief counsel to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the past four years.
Schumer recommended Bharara to the top prosecutor spot earlier this year and his confirmation was a foregone conclusion. Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin has held the post since Michael Garcia, a Bush appointee and Westchester resident, left the office in December.
Bharara, who worked as a line prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan from 2000 to 2005, rose to prominence as a result of his work on the Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the firing of several U.S. attorneys in 2006. That investigation led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Schumer announced Bharara’s confirmation in an email: “The Southern District of New York will soon be tasked with one of the most important agendas of any office in the country, and no person is better qualified to take it on than Preet Bharara. He has served the Senate for nearly five years with the utmost intelligence, integrity and effectiveness. I know he will do the same as U.S. attorney.”

She oughta know

As Judge Kenneth Karas stood behind the bench in his crowded courtroom this morning, waiting for the jury to enter, he gauged the temperature in the room.

“Is it warm in here?” he asked.

One courtroom observer, sitting in the third row, answered immediately.

“Always,” she said.

She should know. The expert on the climate in Courtroom 521 was Judge Colleen McMahon. That was her courtroom for nine years before she transferred down to Manhattan, where she currently is stationed. McMahon was back in White Plains today because she’s handling some criminal cases to ease the burden on judges Karas and Robinson. The third full-time district judge in the building, Cathy Seibel, still can’t take on a full criminal case load because many of the cases being indicted are the result of investigations that began while she was a top lieutenant of then U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia.