Feds give up on Gotti

tjndc5-5hlr2jwtx76vlggdjbj_thumbnailThe U.S. Attorney’s office just released a statement announcing that Preet Bharara has decided to forego a possible fifth attempt to convict John “Junior” Gotti after his first four trials ended in hung juries.

“In light of the circumstances, the Government has decided not to proceed with the prosecution against John A. Gotti,” Bharara said in the statement.

Bharara’s office submitted what is called a “nolle prosequi” order for approval by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel, who oversaw the last Gotti trial where the son of former Gambino Crime Family boss John “Dapper Don” Gotti walked out of court a free man following Castel’s declaration of a mistrial on Dec. 2 when the jury said it could not reach a verdict. “Nolle prosequi” is a legal term derived from the Latin that basically means the prosecution will not continue.

The feds do have a conviction of Gotti stemming from a 1998 case where he and now-deceased Gambino capo Greg DePalma of Scarsdale were charged with extorting the notorious – or famous depending on your viewpoint – Manhattan strip club Scores. It was while he was in prison on that conviction that Gotti said he quit the mob. Federal prosecutors and the FBI disagreed and tried to prove it four times after Gotti was released from prison.

Bharara addresses terrorist trial in NYC

During a news conference in White Plains today to announce the arrests of 37 people in connection with a Westchester County drug ring, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was asked about the decision by his bosses at the Justice Department and the White House to bring self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused terrorists to New York to stand trial in a civilian court.

“We’re honored and proud that the Attorney General is sending the case to the Southern District of New York and we’ve answered that call,” Bharara said. “And our job is to make the best criminal case that we can and that’s what we do best and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Still in the game

A common refrain about federal law enforcement post-9/11 is that the feds are no longer in the business of fighting the illegal drug trade. It was repeated several times on the greatest television show ever — “The Wire.”  Anti-terrorism and the Wall Street meltdown with its associated financial scandals may indeed have focused the feds’ resources elsewhere. But that  doesn’t mean federal agents and prosecutors aren’t still in the game.

Just ask the 53 Bronx residents charged in six sweeping federal indictments aimed at the crack and heroin trade in two Bronx housing projects. Some 450 federal agents and New York City cops descended upon the Morrisania section of the Bronx this morning to corral more than three dozen of the accused. And the feds used all the weapons at their disposal in the investigation —wiretaps, informants, undercover officers — to build the case that resulted in the execution of 22 search warrants this morning and the seizure of $18,000, four guns, and 1000 bags of heroin.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called a press conference to announce the arrests, the third such news event since he was sworn in last month. The first two were connected to white collar cases.  Read the release issued by Bharara’s office here.

Terror indictment filed in Manhattan

An Indian national living in Queens illegally and another man who is still at large were charged in a federal indictment with attempting to provide guns, ammunition, vehicles, bulletproof vests and night vision goggles to Hizballah, the terrorist group based in Lebanon, federal authorities said today.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced this morning that Patrick Nayyar, 45, had already been arrested last month by the FBI in the Eastern District of New York. Those charges, contained in a criminal complaint, accuse Nayyar of being an illegal alien in possession of a handgun. The other defendant, Conrad Stanisclaus Mulholland, 43, has not yet been arrested.

Federal authorities said the two men agreed to sell the items to a man who they thought was an operative for Hizballah but who actually was an infomant working for the FBI.

Read the indictment here.

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.”