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NDNY USAO Bicentennial Celebration

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On June 25th, we celebrated the bicentennial of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.  All nine living former United States Attorneys participated, and each is pictured above with U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian:  (from left) Gustave J. DiBianco, 1982; Thomas J. Maroney, 1994 – 1999; Andrew T. Baxter, 2008 – 2010; Glenn T. Suddaby, 2002 – 2008; Richard S. Hartunian, 2010 – present; Joseph A. Pavone, 2001 – 2002; Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., 1982 – 1992; Gary L. Sharpe, 1992 – 1994; George H. Lowe, 1978 – 1982; and Daniel J. French, 1999 – 2001.  Over one hundred people attended, including many current employees, many retired support staff, and these former NDNY Assistant U.S. Attorneys: Department of Justice Deputy Inspector General Robert P. Storch; Dante Scaccia, who became an AUSA in 1961; and New York State Court of Claims Judge John Brunetti, New York State Police Counsel Thomas Capezza, William Dreyer, Donald Kinsella, Bernard “Bud” Malone, Kevin McCormick, Brian Mumford, Gregory West, and James Woods.  U.S. Congressman John Katko, a former AUSA, participated with a video message.

U.S. Attorney Hartunian gave the keynote address, “Our 200 Year Journey toward Justice,” and unveiled portraits of each of his predecessors to be displayed in our Syracuse and Albany Offices.  U.S. Attorney Hartunian chronicled the highlights of the tenure of each living former U.S. Attorney and thanked them for their service and leadership, noting that the strong foundation they built and the ethical principles they embedded into the office DNA enable us to meet the increasingly complex challenges we now face with the rise of homegrown terrorists, the advent of cybercrime, and the challenge of building community trust between our brave law enforcement officers and the community members they are sworn to protect and serve.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Jaquith summarized the prior history of the office, beginning with its parent, the District of New York, whose first U.S. Attorney, Richard Harison, was also the founder of Malone, in Franklin County.  In 1814, the District of New York was divided in into the Northern and Southern Districts.  The senior judge of the District of New York, Matthias Tallmadge, of Herkimer, became the first judge of the Northern District, and convened the first session of the Northern District in Utica on September 7, 1815.  Albany was added as a site for court in 1818, Syracuse and Binghamton were added in 1900, and Plattsburgh was added in 2004.  

The first U.S. Attorney for the Northern District was Roger Skinner, who was part of the Albany Regency, the political machine that included Martin Van Buren.  The first big case arose from the seizure of the Canadian merchant schooner Lord Nelson on Lake Ontario two weeks before the War of 1812 began.  In 1838, a NDNY mortgage foreclosure case, Benton v Woolsey, was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Famous cases have included those connected to the Jerry Rescue, when President Fillmore instructed U.S. Attorney James Lawrence that, “the supremacy of the laws must be maintained, at every hazard and at every sacrifice;” the conviction of Susan B. Anthony for casting an illegal vote in 1872; and the acquittal of gangster Dutch Schultz of tax evasion in 1935.  In more recent times, we have targeted public corruption, with notable cases including those against the former Mayor of Syracuse, Lee Alexander, sending him to prison for 10 years for racketeering and tax evasion, as well as Albany County Executive Jim Coyne and Ed McDonough, the Rensselaer County Democratic leader; violent gangs, from the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club to street gangs such as Boot Camp and Elk Block in Syracuse and the Jungle Junkies in Albany; organized crime, such as the Utica underworld group that included Louie King, who attempted to bomb an FBI agent’s home during his 1973 loan-sharking trial, and the Buffalino crime family, engaged in a $9 million tax investment scheme and racketeering; violent drug rings, including the group that murdered undercover Syracuse Police Officer Wallie Howard, Jr. and the Archie Joyner organization, whose golden road of cocaine through Binghamton involved arson homicide; drug traffickers who attempted to obtain fraudulent green cards for illegal aliens by trading cocaine and crack; major tobacco companies that schemed to defraud the US and Canada of $687 million in tax revenue for contraband cigarette transactions; and support of terrorism, including successful prosecutions of Dr. Rafil Dhafir and Yassin Aref and Mohammad Hossain.

U.S. Attorney Hartunian noted that we pass on the example set for us by the nine living former U.S. Attorneys, embracing the principles set out by Justice George Sutherland in Berger v. United States in 1935, and by then Attorney General Robert Jackson in 1940: our interest is not that we win a case, but that justice be done, and we “temper zeal with human kindness, seek truth and not victims, serve the law and not factional purposes and approach [our] task with humility.”  The U.S. Attorney pledged that we will continue to follow these principles as the role of the federal prosecutor evolves beyond case processing to community problem solving.

Updated January 19, 2021

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Office and Personnel Updates