Black Friday Prosecutor Preet Bharara on US AG Shortlist

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Alana Markoff
Preet Bharara possible US Attorney General

Preet Bharara could be one of the leading candidates to take over the role of next US Attorney General. (Image: John Moore/Getty)

Preet Bharara, best-known in the poker world for being the man who set into motion the events of Black Friday, is believed to be on the shortlist to take over the position of United States Attorney General following the resignation of current Attorney General Eric Holder.

Bharara, who is currently serving as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has been one of the highest-profile federal attorneys in the country in recent years, making it little surprise that he would be considered for the position.

But among poker fans, Bharara’s name is synonymous with perhaps the darkest day in online poker history. On April 15, 2011, Bharara unsealed the indictments in United States v. Scheinberg, essentially forcing the closure of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and the rooms on the Cereus Network (Absolute Poker and Ultimatebet) in the United States.

The indictments included charges against individuals who operated each site, as well as payment processors who helped move money to and from the sites in violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

Accomplishments Go Far Beyond Online Poker Cases

While the Black Friday cases made headline news out of online poker, that alone wouldn’t be enough for Bharara’s name to be thrown around for US Attorney General. But the Indian-American attorney has plenty of other accomplishments to hang his hat on, enough that he was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time in 2012.

Born in Punjab, India, Bharara grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1993. He spent time as the chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and was assistant US Attorney in Manhattan for five years. In 2009, Bharara was nominated by President Obama for the post of US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and received a unanimous confirmation from the Senate.

Terrorists, Politicians Among Those Prosecuted

Since that time, Bharara’s office has prosecuted a number of high-profile defendants, including several international terrorists. Notable cases include that of Faisal Shazad, better known as the Times Square Bomber, and that of Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden. Bharara has also dealt with cases involving insider trading and other financial matters, and has charged several elected officials in public corruption cases.

Bharara’s distinguished career has led to speculation that he could be in line to take over Holder’s position. In one report, Politico named at least four candidates that could be on President Obama’s short list to fill the position, including not only Bharara, but also Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Eric Holder began his tenure as US Attorney General at the start of the Obama administration, and his six years in the position are among the longest tenures for that post. If Holder, who plans to stay on until a replacement is confirmed, is still in the position in December, he will be the third longest-serving attorney general in US history. Given that, it was little surprise when Holder announced he would be stepping down, and his departure had been the subject of speculation for some time now.

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