He has been Manhattan's top federal prosecutor for less than two years, but now a sweeping indictment against State Senator Carl Kruger has brought many to now notice Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Preet Bharara, whose last name is pronounced "bah-rah-rah," is one of the most powerful people you may be just starting to hear about. His new corruption case against State Senator Carl Kruger is one of dozens of prosecutions he is heading as U.S. attorney for the state's Southern District.
As Bharara spoke Thursday, it appeared the Kruger case struck a particular nerve.
"It seems that no matter how many times the alarm goes off, Albany just hits the snooze button," said Bharara.
Many prosecutors say corruption offenses are the most galling cases they will handle. Maybe it is because Albany isn't policing itself, but Bharara seems to mean it.
"I don't think that one can work in Washington and be a New Yorker for a long time and live in the world that Preet has lived in, without thinking that dirty politicians are really something to be targeted with all one's resources," says Dan Richman, a former federal prosecutor and a friend of Bharara.
The U.S. attorney is also behind insider trading cases, including the biggest one in decades against former hedge fund executive Raj Rajaratnam. Bharara was also involved what officials called the largest mob bust in history.
The comparison is inexact, but with his fighting corruption and crime, and a tendency to lace his addresses with lessons about right and wrong, Bharara reminds some of Rudolph Giuliani. The former mayor was a U.S. attorney in the 1980s.
"In insider trading, in corruption, in organized crime, he's also the go-to office for the Justice Department for terrorism prosecutions. I mean, he's already in a short time, developing an extraordinary record of accomplishment," says Randy Mastro, a former federal prosecutor and Giuliani deputy.
Bharara was Senator Charles Schumer's counsel when President Barack Obama tapped him for the post.
Yet unlike his former boss, or Giuliani for that matter, Bharara is said to have no desire to run for office.
Instead, he earned bipartisan praise for investigating firings of U.S. attorneys by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.
Intensely private, the 42-year-old declined an interview request and would only allow a few personal tidbits.
Bharara was born in India and raised in New Jersey, and aside from spending time with his family, listening to Bruce Springsteen is one thing he does when he is not working.