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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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3][4]

Geoffrey Berman
Geoffrey S. Berman.jpg
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Assumed office
January 5, 2018
Acting: January 5, 2018 – April 25, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byJoon Kim (Acting)
Personal details
Geoffrey Steven Berman

(1959-09-12) September 12, 1959 (age 59)
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Joanne Karen Schwartz
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA, BS)
Stanford University (JD)


Early lifeEdit

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.[5] He then studied law at Stanford University where he obtained a Juris Doctor degree in 1984.[6] During his studies, he was the Note Editor of the Stanford Law Review.[7]


Berman began his career as a law clerk for Judge Leonard I. Garth in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.[8] He served for three years as an associate to independent counsel Lawrence Walsh during investigation into the Iran–Contra affair 1987–1990.[9] 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.[10][11] 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 during his time in Greenberg Traurig (2014)

Berman was subsequently engaged by Mudge Rose and Latham & Watkins, where he worked as a monitor to rid the New York Carpenter’s Union of mob control.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15][16]

Berman represented Philip Kwon, the deputy general counsel at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey during the Bridgegate trial.[17] 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.[18] Berman had performed some part-time volunteer work for the Trump transition.[19] 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.[20][21] 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.[4]

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.[22][23][24] 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.[25] That search was presumably conducted under the authority of Robert Khuzami, Berman’s top deputy.[26]

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.[27][28][29] Following the charges, House Speaker Paul Ryan kicked Collins off of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Collins suspended his reelection campaign.[30][31][32]

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.[33]

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.[34] In January 2019 Hernandez pleaded guilty to the charges Berman had brought against him. [35]

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.”[36][37][38]

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.”[39]

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.”[40]

Major prosecutions announced by BermanEdit

  • U.S. v Rafatnejad et al.[41][42]
  • U.S. v New York City Housing Authority[43][44]
  • U.S. v Christian Toro and Tyler Toro[45]
  • U.S. v Freedman et al.[46]
  • U.S. v Therese Okoumou[47]
  • U.S. v MTA et al.[48][49]
  • U.S. v City of Mount Vernon[50][51]
  • U.S. v Collins et al.[27]
  • U.S. v Hernandez et al.[34]
  • U.S. v Cesar Altieri Sayoc[52]
  • U.S. v Natalya Vladmirovna Veselnitskaya[53]
  • U.S. v Michael Avenatti[54]
  • U.S v Rochester Drug Co-operative[55]
  • U.S v Doud[55]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Statement Of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman On Appointment By Chief Judge". 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  2. ^ United States Department of Justice. "Attorney General Sessions Appoints 17 Current and Former Federal Prosecutors as Interim United States Attorneys". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b 28 U.S.C. § 546 28 U.S. Code § 546. Vacancies (United States Attorneys)
  5. ^ 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."
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Shareholder profile". Greenberg Traurig. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  8. ^ Bloomberg Politics. "Giuliani Law Partner Named Top New York Federal Prosecutor". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  9. ^ "U.S. Attorney Candidate for Manhattan: A Canny Mind With Humor". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  10. ^ NY Post. "Trump picks Preet Bharara's replacement". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Weddings – Joanne Schwartz, Geoffrey Berman". New York Times. August 21, 1994. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  14. ^ 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."
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Seidman, Andrew (September 28, 2016). "Bridgegate testimony: Christie seemed to approve of retaliation against mayors". Philadelphia Enquirer. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  18. ^ Politico. "Trump personally interviewed U.S. attorney candidates". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  19. ^ "Independent New York Prosecutors Pose Potential Risk for Trump". Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  20. ^ NBC News. "Sessions uses executive authority to appoint interim U.S. attorneys". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  21. ^ Washington Post. "Sessions names 17 interim U.S. attorneys, including in premier Manhattan office". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  22. ^ Terkel, Amanda (2018-04-10). "U.S. Attorney Behind The Michael Cohen Raid Is A Trump Appointee". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ News, A. B. C. (2018-04-10). "US attorney recused from Michael Cohen investigation". ABC News. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  26. ^ "Ex-SEC Chief Believed to Be Behind Trump Attorney Raid". 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  27. ^ a b "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.
  28. ^ "The New York Times in Print for Thursday, August 9, 2018". Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  29. ^ Merle, Renae (2018-08-08). "Rep. Chris Collins charged with insider trading, federal prosecutors announce". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  30. ^ "Paul Ryan kicks Chris Collins off House committee following insider-trading indictment". Washington Examiner. 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  31. ^ CNN, Maegan Vazquez and Eric Bradner,. "Chris Collins suspends re-election campaign following insider trading charges". CNN. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ "Cesar Altieri Sayoc Charged In 30-Count Indictment With Mailing Improvised Explosive Devices". 2018-11-09. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  34. ^ a b
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Russian Attorney Natalya Veselnitskaya Charged With Obstruction Of Justice In Connection With Civil Money Laundering And Forfeiture Action". 2019-01-08. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  37. ^ MSNBC, Meet The Federal Prosecutor Who Scares Trump More Than Mueller | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC, retrieved 2019-01-20
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ "Nine Iranians Charged With Conducting Massive Cyber Theft Campaign on Behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  42. ^ Mak, Aaron. "Justice Department Indicts Iranian Hackers for Allegedly Stealing Research From Hundreds of Universities". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  43. ^ "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". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  44. ^ "New York City Housing Authority, Accused of Endangering Residents, Agrees to Oversight". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  45. ^ "Bronx Men Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Explosives Charges". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  46. ^ "Five Manhattan Doctors Indicted For Accepting Bribes And Kickbacks From A Pharmaceutical Company In Exchange For Prescribing Powerful Fentanyl Narcotic". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  47. ^ "Woman Who Unlawfully Climbed The Statue Of Liberty Arrested For Trespassing, Interference With Government Agency Functions, And Disorderly Conduct". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  48. ^ "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". Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  49. ^ Adler, Ben (2018-03-13). "U.S. Attorney Berman sues MTA for disability violation". CSNY. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  50. ^ "U.S. Attorney Announces Lawsuit Against The City Of Mount Vernon For Clean Water Act Violations". Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  51. ^ "Feds sue Mount Vernon for sewage in rivers". Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  52. ^ "Cesar Altieri Sayoc Charged In 30-Count Indictment With Mailing Improvised Explosive Devices". 2018-11-09. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  53. ^ "Russian Attorney Natalya Veselnitskaya Charged With Obstruction Of Justice In Connection With Civil Money Laundering And Forfeiture Action". 2019-01-08. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  54. ^ "U.S. Attorney Announces The Arrest Of Michael Avenatti For Engaging In A Scheme To Extort A Public Company". 2019-03-25. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  55. ^ a b "Manhattan U.S. Attorney And DEA Announce Charges Against Rochester Drug Co-Operative And Two Executives For Unlawfully Distributing Controlled Substances". 2019-04-23. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Joon Kim
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York