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Press Release

Coombe Becomes First Female Federal Criminal Chief for Northern District of New York; Clymer Becomes Appellate Chief

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

Albany, New York – Elizabeth C. Coombe has been named the Chief of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. Ms. Coombe succeeds Steven D. Clymer, who is becoming the Appellate Chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

United States Attorney Hartunian said: “Beth Coombe is an outstanding leader and accomplished trial lawyer, with the extensive experience, breadth of perspective, unflinching integrity, and sound judgment needed to address today’s significant law enforcement challenges.”

Ms. Coombe is the seventh Chief of the Criminal Division and the first female to hold the post since it was created about twenty-three years ago. Ms. Coombe has served as the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division since 2012. She became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia in 1998, serving in the appellate, general felony, and grand jury sections before being assigned to the fraud and public corruption section. She transferred to the Albany Office of the Northern District of New York in 2003, where she has focused on public corruption and white collar crime. She has also served as a team leader and as a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Ms. Coombe graduated from the University of Michigan Law School cum laude in 1992 and Hamilton College summa cum laude in 1989. Before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Ms. Coombe worked as a trial attorney in the Court of Claims and Federal Circuit Section of the Department of Justice. She also worked as a staff attorney for the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission and clerked for the Honorable Diana E. Murphy, then Chief United States District Court Judge for the District of Minnesota.

In the Northern District, Ms. Coombe has tried a number of high profile cases, including an honest services fraud case against the former New York State Senate Majority Leader; a $30 million dollar investment fraud case against the owners of a securities broker-dealer in Albany (McGinn Smith), leading to imprisonment sentences of 15 and 10 years; and United States v. Yassin Aref (a local Imam) and Mohammed Hossain, leading to sentences including imprisonment for 15 years for conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism, and related offenses. She has also tried extortion, tax fraud, structuring, and embezzlement cases. This year, Ms. Coombe received a Director’s Award for Superior Performance.

Regarding Mr. Clymer, United States Attorney Hartunian said: “Steve Clymer has served the District with great distinction as Criminal Chief. His extraordinary legal mind, attention to detail, and demonstrated excellence as a leader, litigator, and educator will make him a superb Appellate Chief.”

Mr. Clymer has served as the Chief of the Criminal Division since 2010. Mr. Clymer first became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California in 1987, where he worked until 1995 and 2003 - 2005, serving as Chief of the Criminal Division, Senior Litigation Counsel, Chief of the Major Crimes Section, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Section, and Chief of Training. A graduate of Cornell University (magna cum laude, 1980) and Cornell Law School (magna cum laude, 1983), Mr. Clymer served as Associate Professor of Law at Cornell Law School 1995 – 2000, Assistant Professor of Law 2001 - 2005, and Professor of Law 2005-10, and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law since 2010. Mr. Clymer was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of New York 1998 - 2000, served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney 2001 - 2003 and 2005 - 2007, returned to the Office in 2007, and became Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division in 2008. Before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mr. Clymer was an Assistant District Attorney for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia County) 1983 - 1986.

Mr. Clymer’s notable cases have included prosecutions of: the LAPD police officers responsible for use of unlawful force when arresting Rodney King; two men who killed two DEA agents and wounded a third; a case arising from Operation Polar-Cap, the largest money-laundering investigation in United States history, resulting in the laundering of over $100 million per year of cocaine proceeds; two cases arising from multi-defendant conspiracy to smuggle in excess of 60 tons of Thai marijuana to the United States by use of large ocean-going vessels; a Syracuse area physician who was defrauding Medicare and private insurers by charging over $10,000 for patient physical examinations; a Syracuse heart surgery practice for filing false claims to Medicare about use of second physician in open heart surgeries; executives at two Central New York insurance companies in a scheme to defraud Medicare; and an Albany area pain management physician who submitted false claims to Medicare and private health insurance companies and had nurses illegally dispense prescriptions for schedule II controlled substances without physician involvement.

United States Attorneys serve as the nation's principal litigators, under the direction of the Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice. There is one United States Attorney for each judicial district in the United States and its territories. The primary statutory responsibilities of United States Attorneys are the prosecution of federal criminal cases, the prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the United States is a party, and the collection of debts owed the federal government which are administratively uncollectible. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York prosecutes about 500 criminal cases each year.

Richard S. Hartunian took office as United States Attorney on January 3, 2010. The other current leadership of the Office is:

First Assistant U.S. Attorney: Grant C. Jaquith
Chief, Criminal Division: Elizabeth C. Coombe
Chief, Appellate Division: Steven D. Clymer
Chief, Civil Division, and Chief, Albany Office: Thomas Spina, Jr.
Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney for Public and Community Affairs: John G. Duncan
Senior Litigation Counsel: Edward R. Broton
Chief, Syracuse Office and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator: Lisa M. Fletcher
Narcotics Chief and Lead Organized Crime Task Force Attorney: Daniel Hanlon
Deputy Chief, Civil Division: William F. Larkin

The Northern District of New York is comprised of thirty-two counties in upstate New York, covering an area of over 30,000 square miles that is home to about 3.4 million people. The United States Attorney has offices in Syracuse, Albany, Binghamton, and Plattsburgh.

Updated February 10, 2015