Earl J. Silbert

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Earl J. Silbert (born March 8, 1936) is a prominent American lawyer who served as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1974 to 1979, and served, along with two other U.S. Attorneys, as the first prosecutor in the infamous Watergate scandal.[1] His daughter is novelist Leslie Silbert.

Earl J. Silbert
Earl J. Silbert

(1936-03-08) March 8, 1936 (age 84)
Alma materHarvard Law School
OccupationAttorney; U.S. Attorney in Watergate Scandal
Political partyDemocratic
ChildrenLeslie Silbert


Silbert was born in Boston Massachusetts. He had two sisters. His father was also a lawyer and a member of Massachusetts House of Representatives (1921/22). He attended Phillips Exeter Academy[2] and graduated, with honors, from Havard Law School in 1960.[3]

From 1960 he worked at the United States Department of Justice (Tax Division). From 1974 to 1979 he served as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.[3] Silbert was indirectly involved in the trial of CIA asset Michael V. Townley for the assassination of former Chilean ambassador to the U.S. Orlando Letelier. Silbert's involvement centered on a document he agreed to (in his capacity as U.S. Attorney for the Justice Department) with the Chilean government of dictator Augusto Pinochet to limit the amount of information the Justice Department would release about the assassination of Letelier and other activities involving the Chilean government. Silbert's April 7, 1978, agreement with Enrique Montero Marx, the Chilean under-secretary of the interior, came one day before the Chilean government turned over one of its secret police agents, Michael Vernon Townley, to the FBI for questioning in the Letelier slaying.[4] Silbert represented Michael Abbell, a former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor who then became a defense attorney for Colombia's notorious Cali cartel and who was eventually sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in drug trafficking. Silbert also represented former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay. Silbert's daughter is novelist Leslie Silbert.


In 2009, the Council for Court Excellence Justice Potter Stewart Award was presented to Sibert for his work to improve the judicial system, both as a United States Attorney and subsequently in private practice.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Earl J. Silbert". DLA Piper. Archived from the original on 2007-02-15. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  2. ^ "Earl Silbert". Phillips Exeter Academy. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  3. ^ a b Wiliam F. Causey (Oral History Project). "Earl J. Silbert" (PDF). Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. Retrieved 2014-09-22.m
  4. ^ http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg%20Subject%20Index%20Files/L%20Disk/Letelier%20Orlando%20Killing/Item%2047.pdf