You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 5, 2015

Five Lawyers In Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office Recognized At Annual U.S. Attorney Awards Ceremony

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that the Department of Justice held its 31st annual Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Director’s Awards Ceremony yesterday, during which 160 award recipients from 31 districts were recognized for their dedication to carrying out the mission of the Department of Justice.  Among the award recipients were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard S. Master, Andrew D. Goldstein, Robert W. Yalen, Tara M. La Morte, and Arastu K. Chaudhury from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director Monty Wilkinson presided at yesterday’s ceremony in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C.

In her prepared remarks, Attorney General Lynch told the attendees: “Our honorees include career executives and supervisors; Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys; appellate attorneys and law enforcement officials; administrators, paralegals, and public affairs officers.  These individuals, and so many others, have faced daunting and sometimes dangerous challenges.  They have dedicated their leadership and their expertise, their time and their energy, to the service of their mission.  And they have remained devoted, at all times, to the high ideals and deeply-held values that animate our country and our cause.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “This year’s Director’s Award winners were recognized for their commitment to justice.  They spearheaded cases that recouped hundreds of millions of dollars defrauded from New York City, protected the nation’s environment by holding a major polluter financially liable, and secured legally guaranteed pension benefits for City employees who served in the nation’s armed forces.  Their efforts exemplify the tradition of excellence of this Office, and I congratulate them for these well-deserved honors.”

Howard S. Master and Andrew D. Goldstein are recognized for their investigation and prosecution of the CityTime case, the largest municipal fraud and kickback scheme in history.  Through a dogged investigation that involved tracing payments through more than 150 foreign and domestic accounts, poring through hundreds of thousands of emails and project documents, interviewing more than 100 witnesses, and securing cooperation from two key insiders, Mr. Master and Mr. Goldstein were able to prove that the City of New York’s project manager and an executive of one of the nation’s largest government contractors defrauded the City, collected tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks, and laundered their proceeds through an intricate web of corrupt subcontractors and shell accounts. The prosecution resulted in eight convictions, a deferred prosecution agreement with the contractor, and record forfeitures of over $550 million.

Robert W. Yalen is recognized for his outstanding work representing the United States in the bankruptcy proceeding of Tronox, Inc., which resulted in two extraordinary environmental settlement agreements, including one for $5.15 billion that constitutes the largest recovery of funds for environmental clean-up ever by the Department of Justice.  Through these settlement agreements, the Kerr-McGee Corporation was compelled to pay for 85 years of environmental contamination across the nation, a legacy that Kerr-McGee had attempted to evade though a fraudulent conveyance of assets.  Mr. Yalen showed extraordinary negotiation, litigation, and case management skills by overseeing the creation of five environmental clean-up trusts; serving as lead counsel for the United States in a complex fraudulent conveyance matter; coordinating with the Environment and Natural Resources Division, seven client agencies, 22 states, and the Navajo Nation; and representing the United States in negotiations with the defendants and the Tronox estate.

Tara M. La Morte and Arastu K. Chaudhury are recognized for their extraordinary performance in a class-action lawsuit against the City of New York, culminating in a settlement providing monetary and injunctive relief to all employees of the City who have served their country in the armed forces.  In the wake of 9/11, thousands of City service-member employees were deployed around the world, often multiple times and for substantial duration.  However, the City refused to calculate the service members’ pensionable earnings in accordance with USERRA, the law designed to protect against discrimination on account of military service.  The City’s policies caused these service members to receive fewer pension benefits than they would have received but for serving their country.  Beating back the defendants’ numerous aggressive attempts to avoid any liability, Ms. La Morte and Mr. Chaudhury obtained full monetary recovery for all service-member employees, as well as significant policy changes to ensure that the City acts lawfully going forward.

*                *                *

EOUSA provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorneys’ offices around the country. For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao.

Press Release Number: 
15-139
Updated June 5, 2015