Geoffrey Steven Berman (born September 12, 1959) is an American lawyer serving as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York since 2018. He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1990 to 1994. In January 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Berman's appointment as interim U.S. Attorney for a statutory period of 120 days. On April 25, 2018, the judges of the Southern District of New York, pursuant to the statute, unanimously appointed Berman U.S. Attorney for an indeterminate term that expires upon the appointment of a Presidential nominee approved by the Senate.
|United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York|
|Assumed office |
April 25, 2018
Acting: January 5, 2018 – April 25, 2018
|Preceded by||Preet Bharara|
Geoffrey Steven Berman
September 12, 1959
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Joanne Karen Schwartz|
|Education||University of Pennsylvania (BA, BS)|
Stanford University (JD)
Berman, a native of Trenton, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1981. He then studied law at Stanford University where he obtained a Juris Doctor degree in 1984. During his studies, he was the Note Editor of the Stanford Law Review.
Berman began his career as a law clerk for Judge Leonard I. Garth in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He served for three years as an associate to independent counsel Lawrence Walsh during investigation into the Iran–Contra affair 1987–1990. There, he was part of a team that was able to prosecute former CIA employee, Thomas G. Clines, on tax fraud charges.
Assistant United States Attorney (1990–1994)Edit
Berman later served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1990 to 1994. Berman worked on several complex tax and fraud cases as a prosecutor, including the Masters of Deception computer hacking case. As a result of Berman’s prosecution of that case, his effigy was stabbed on the front cover of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, a computer hacking magazine.
Private practice (1994–2018)Edit
Berman was subsequently engaged by Mudge Rose and Latham & Watkins, where he worked as a monitor to rid the New York Carpenter’s Union Power  From 1994 to 1997, Berman represented, pro bono, Maureen and Richard Kanka, defending the constitutionality of Megan’s Law in state and federal litigation. He married Joanne Karen Schwartz August 20, 1994.
Berman is currently a resident of New York, where he previously lived from 1984 to 2002. He then moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived for 14 years. Berman was a partner of Rudy Giuliani at Greenberg Traurig. It was reported that Giuliani supported Berman for U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, but that Giuliani supported a different candidate for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Berman represented Philip Kwon, the deputy general counsel at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey during the Bridgegate trial. Berman denied that his client was ever told the lane closures were intended to punish anyone.
United States Attorney (2018–present)Edit
Upon President Donald Trump's firing Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney, Trump reportedly interviewed Berman among other candidates for the position. Berman had performed some part-time volunteer work for the Trump transition. On January 3, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Berman's appointment as U.S. Attorney, along with sixteen other former prosecutors, to serve in various offices around the country on an interim basis until the Senate can permanently confirm them. The Trump Administration never nominated Berman or most of the other interim appointments. On April 25, 2018, the Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York entered an order formally on behalf of a unanimous court appointing Berman United States Attorney pursuant to its authority under 28 U.S.C Section 546(d). Berman has the appointment indefinitely, until an individual nominated by the President is confirmed by the Senate, or he is dismissed from the position by the President.
In April 2018, the office of Berman issued a search warrant of the office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, former lawyer of Donald Trump, for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations. Since Berman is recused by the U.S. Attorney General's Office from the investigation, he was apparently not involved in the decision to raid Cohen's office. That search was presumably conducted under the authority of Robert Khuzami, Berman’s top deputy.
In August 2018, U.S. Representative Chris Collins, his son Cameron, and the father of Cameron’s fiancée, Stephen Zarsky, were arrested by the FBI and charged with insider trading and making false statements by Berman. Following the charges, House Speaker Paul Ryan kicked Collins off of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Collins suspended his reelection campaign.
In October 2018, Berman charged Cesar Sayoc with sending a string of homemade incendiary packages to several present and former federal officials including former President Obama, former President Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In October 2018, Berman criminally charged five doctors and one pharmacist with narcotics distribution, including prescribing opioids to individuals who had no medical need for the drugs. Berman said at his press conference: “These doctors and other health professionals should have been the first line of defense against opioid abuse, but as alleged in today’s charges, instead of caring for their patients, they were drug dealers in white coats."
In November 2018, Berman charged recording artist and performer Daniel Hernandez, better known as 6ix9ine, with six felony counts in racketeering and violence to aid racketeering. The most serious charge being brought against Hernandez is "using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to, or possessing a firearm in furtherance of, a crime of violence, which was discharged" which can result in life in prison. In January 2019 Hernandez pleaded guilty to the charges Berman had brought against him.
In November 2018, Berman agreed to comply with federal law requiring presentation to a Special Grand Jury of an April 2018 petition and amended July 2018 petition submitted by the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry. The petition outlines certain 9/11 related federal crimes committed within the Southern District of New York including that the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers (WTC1 and WTC2) and WTC Building 7 (WTC7) collapsed on 9/11 due to the detonation of pre-planted explosives and/or incendiaries.
In January 2019, Berman charged Natalya Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, with obstruction of justice in connection with a false and misleading declaration she submitted to a judge in the Southern District of New York. Berman said on announcing the indictment: “Fabricating evidence to affect the outcome of pending litigation not only undermines the integrity of the judicial process, but it threatens the ability of our courts and our government to ensure that justice is done.”
In March 2019, Berman charged Michael Avenatti with extortion in connection with his threat to Nike that he would go public with damaging allegations against Nike employees unless Nike paid him over $20 million. Berman said on announcing the charges: “A suit and tie doesn’t mask the fact that, at its core, this was an old-fashioned shakedown.”
In April 2019, Berman brought the first ever drug trafficking charges against a pharmaceutical company and two of its executives, charging Rochester Drug Co-Operative and its former CEO, Laurence Doud III, with illegally conspiring to distribute oxycodone and fentanyl and conspiring to defraud the DEA. In announcing the charges, Berman said “This prosecution is the first of its kind: executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our country. Our Office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms.”
In July 2019, Berman charged financier Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors. Berman said at his press conference: "The alleged behavior shocks the conscience. And while the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, it is still profoundly important to the many alleged victims, now young women. They deserve their day in court, and we are proud to stand up for them in bringing this indictment.” Berman's prosecution resurfaced then-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's handling of Epstein's sex traffic case a decade earlier. On July 12, Acosta resigned amid pressure from the case.
On August 10, 2019, Epstein was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide. Berman stated: Today's events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein's many victims their day in Court. To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment - which included a conspiracy count - remains ongoing."
On October 9, 2019, Berman announced charges against Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and two others for campaign violations relating to the illegal use of straw donors and foreign money. Berman said: “They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official - a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.” Berman said that the investigation is continuing.
On November 19, 2019, Berman was among the federal prosecutors who charged guards Michael Thomas and Tova Noel with creating false records, and with conspiracy, after video footage obtained by prosecutors revealed that alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein had, against regulation, been in his cell unchecked for eight hours prior to being found dead on August 10th, 2019.
Major prosecutions announced by BermanEdit
- U.S. v Rafatnejad et al.
- U.S. v New York City Housing Authority
- U.S. v Christian Toro and Tyler Toro
- U.S. v Freedman et al.
- U.S. v Therese Okoumou
- U.S. v MTA et al.
- U.S. v City of Mount Vernon
- U.S. v Collins et al.
- U.S. v Hernandez et al.
- U.S. v Cesar Altieri Sayoc
- U.S. v Natalya Vladmirovna Veselnitskaya
- U.S. v Michael Avenatti
- U.S. v Rochester Drug Co-operative
- U.S. v Doud
- U.S. v Jeffrey Epstein
- U.S. v. Juan Antonio Hernández, who is the brother of the current President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez
- U.S. v Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman
- U.S. v Tova Noel and Michael Thomas
- "Statement Of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman On Appointment By Chief Judge". 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
- United States Department of Justice. "Attorney General Sessions Appoints 17 Current and Former Federal Prosecutors as Interim United States Attorneys". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- Weiser, Benjamin (2018-04-25). "With No Nomination From Trump, Judges Choose U.S. Attorney for Manhattan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
- 28 U.S.C. § 546 28 U.S. Code § 546. Vacancies (United States Attorneys)
- Smythe, Christie; Dolmetsch, Chris; and Larson, Erik. "Giuliani Law Partner Named Top New York Federal Prosecutor", Bloomberg News, January 4, 2018. Accessed January 7, 2018. "A native of Trenton, New Jersey, where his father was a real estate developer, Berman graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981 and its Wharton School."
- School, Stanford Law. "Geoffrey Berman: At the Helm of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of N.Y." Stanford Law School. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
- "Shareholder profile". Greenberg Traurig. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- Bloomberg Politics. "Giuliani Law Partner Named Top New York Federal Prosecutor". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- "U.S. Attorney Candidate for Manhattan: A Canny Mind With Humor". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- NY Post. "Trump picks Preet Bharara's replacement". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- Feuer, Alan (August 7, 2017). "Trump May Nominate a Giuliani Law Partner as U.S. Attorney in Manhattan". New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- "Geoffrey Berman: At the Helm of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of N.Y." Stanford Lawyer. November 19, 2018. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
- "Weddings – Joanne Schwartz, Geoffrey Berman". New York Times. August 21, 1994. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
- Jackson, Herb. "Report: NJ attorney Berman being considered for top federal prosecutor in Manhattan", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 7, 2017. Accessed January 7, 2018. "Geoffrey Berman of Princeton was listed as a potential U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in a package of proposed candidates for New York judicial and prosecutorial vacancies sent to the state's U.S. senators in July, Buzzfeed said, citing a source familiar with the process."
- Brodesser-Akner, Claude (May 31, 2017). "It's a Christie vs. Giuliani fight to pick Trump's next U.S. attorney for N.J." NJ Advance Media. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- Feuer, Alan (2017-08-14). "U.S. Attorney Candidate for Manhattan: A Canny Mind With Humor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
- Seidman, Andrew (September 28, 2016). "Bridgegate testimony: Christie seemed to approve of retaliation against mayors". Philadelphia Enquirer. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- Politico. "Trump personally interviewed U.S. attorney candidates". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- "Independent New York Prosecutors Pose Potential Risk for Trump". Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- NBC News. "Sessions uses executive authority to appoint interim U.S. attorneys". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- Washington Post. "Sessions names 17 interim U.S. attorneys, including in premier Manhattan office". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- Terkel, Amanda (2018-04-10). "U.S. Attorney Behind The Michael Cohen Raid Is A Trump Appointee". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
- Leonnig, Carol D.; Hamburger, Tom; Barrett, Devlin (2018-04-09). "Trump attorney Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, campaign finance violations". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
- Daly, Michael (2018-04-11). "Trump Thought He'd Picked His Perfect U.S. Attorney in Geoffrey Berman. He Was Very Wrong". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- News, A. B. C. (2018-04-10). "US attorney recused from Michael Cohen investigation". ABC News. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
- "Ex-SEC Chief Believed to Be Behind Trump Attorney Raid". 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
- "Congressman Christopher Collins And Others Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Insider Trading And Lying To Federal Law Enforcement Agents". 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
- "The New York Times in Print for Thursday, August 9, 2018". Retrieved 2018-08-14.
- Merle, Renae (2018-08-08). "Rep. Chris Collins charged with insider trading, federal prosecutors announce". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
- "Paul Ryan kicks Chris Collins off House committee following insider-trading indictment". Washington Examiner. 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
- CNN, Maegan Vazquez and Eric Bradner,. "Chris Collins suspends re-election campaign following insider trading charges". CNN. Retrieved 2018-08-14.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- Press, The Associated (2019-02-26). "NY Prosecutor's Colleagues Say He's No Trump Puppet". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
- "Cesar Altieri Sayoc Charged In 30-Count Indictment With Mailing Improvised Explosive Devices". www.justice.gov. 2018-11-09. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
- Weiser, Benjamin (2018-10-11). "Prescriptions for Millions of Opioid Pills Lead to Charges Against 5 Doctors". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against 5 Doctors And 2 Other Medical Professionals For Illegally Distributing Oxycodone". www.justice.gov. 2018-10-24. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against 5 Doctors And 2 Other Medical Professionals For Illegally Distributing Oxycodone". www.justice.gov. 2018-10-11. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
- "U.S. Attorney Takes First Step toward Prosecuting Explosive Destruction of World Trade Center on 9/11". Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. 2018-11-27. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- "Russian Attorney Natalya Veselnitskaya Charged With Obstruction Of Justice In Connection With Civil Money Laundering And Forfeiture Action". www.justice.gov. 2019-01-08. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
- MSNBC, Meet The Federal Prosecutor Who Scares Trump More Than Mueller | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC, retrieved 2019-01-20
- Weiser, Benjamin; LaFraniere, Sharon (2019-01-08). "Veselnitskaya, Russian in Trump Tower Meeting, Is Charged in Case That Shows Kremlin Ties". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
- CNBC Television (2019-03-25), Michael Avenatti told Nike 'company could die': US attorney, retrieved 2019-07-19
- Reuters (2019-03-25). "Trump Foe Avenatti Charged With Trying to Extort $20 Million From Nike". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
- "Opioids crisis: News conference on criminal charges against former Rochester drug company execs". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
- Rashbaum, William K. (2019-04-23). "For First Time, Pharmaceutical Distributor Faces Federal Criminal Charges Over Opioid Crisis". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
- PBS NewsHour (2019-07-08), WATCH LIVE: Federal prosecutors announce charges against financier Jeffrey Epstein, retrieved 2019-07-19
- "Jeffrey Epstein Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Sex Trafficking Of Minors". www.justice.gov. 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
- Block, Kevin Breuninger,Valerie (2019-07-12). "Trump's Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns amid pressure from Jeffrey Epstein sex traffic case". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
- "Statement Of Manhattan U.S. Attorney On The Death Of Defendant Jeffrey Epstein". www.justice.gov. 2019-08-10. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- "Lev Parnas And Igor Fruman Charged With Conspiring To Violate Straw And Foreign Donor Bans". www.justice.gov. 2019-10-10. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- "U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman Announces Charges Against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman for Conspiring to Violate Straw and Foreign Donor Bans". www.justice.gov. 2019-10-11. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- "Nine Iranians Charged With Conducting Massive Cyber Theft Campaign on Behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- Mak, Aaron. "Justice Department Indicts Iranian Hackers for Allegedly Stealing Research From Hundreds of Universities". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Settlement With NYCHA and NYC To Fundamentally Reform NYCHA Through the Appointment Of a Federal Monitor and the Payment By NYC Of $1.2 Billion Of Additional Capital Money Over the Next Five Years". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- "New York City Housing Authority, Accused of Endangering Residents, Agrees to Oversight". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- "Bronx Men Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Explosives Charges". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- "Five Manhattan Doctors Indicted For Accepting Bribes And Kickbacks From A Pharmaceutical Company In Exchange For Prescribing Powerful Fentanyl Narcotic". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- "Woman Who Unlawfully Climbed The Statue Of Liberty Arrested For Trespassing, Interference With Government Agency Functions, And Disorderly Conduct". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- "U.S. Attorney Announces Suit Against The MTA And New York City Transit Authority For Failure To Make A Bronx Subway Station Accessible After A Full Renovation". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- Adler, Ben (2018-03-13). "U.S. Attorney Berman sues MTA for disability violation". CSNY. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
- "U.S. Attorney Announces Lawsuit Against The City Of Mount Vernon For Clean Water Act Violations". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
- "Feds sue Mount Vernon for sewage in rivers". lohud.com. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
- "U.S. Attorney Announces The Arrest Of Michael Avenatti For Engaging In A Scheme To Extort A Public Company". www.justice.gov. 2019-03-25. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
- "Manhattan U.S. Attorney And DEA Announce Charges Against Rochester Drug Co-Operative And Two Executives For Unlawfully Distributing Controlled Substances". www.justice.gov. 2019-04-23. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
- Fedschun, Travis (2019-07-08). "Jeffrey Epstein pleads not guilty after sex trafficking arrest, prosecutors claim he preyed on young girls". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
- "Former Honduran Congressman Tony Hernández Convicted In Manhattan Federal Court Of Conspiring To Import Cocaine Into The United States And Related Firearms And False-Statements Offenses". www.justice.gov. 2019-10-18. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- "Lev Parnas And Igor Fruman Charged With Conspiring To Violate Straw And Foreign Donor Bans". www.justice.gov. 2019-10-10. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
| United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York