kids encyclopedia robot

Preet Bharara facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Preet Bharara
Bharara, Preet Headshot.jpg
Official portrait, 2009
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
In office
August 13, 2009 – March 11, 2017
President Barack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded by Michael J. Garcia
Succeeded by Joon Kim (acting)
Personal details
Preetinder Singh Bharara

(1968-10-13) October 13, 1968 (age 55)
Firozpur, Punjab, India
Political party Democratic
Spouse Dalya Bharara
Children 3
Education Harvard University (AB)
Columbia University (JD)

Preetinder Singh Bharara (/prt bəˈrɑːrə/; born October 13, 1968) is an Indian-born American lawyer and former federal prosecutor who served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. He is currently a partner at the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for five years prior to leading the Southern District of New York. According to The New York Times, Bharara was one of the "nation's most aggressive and outspoken prosecutors of public corruption and Wall Street crime" during his tenure as a federal prosecutor.

Born in Firozpur, India, his family immigrated to New Jersey in 1970. Bharara graduated from Harvard College in 1990 and attended Columbia Law School before joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a litigation associate in 1993. Three years later he moved to Shereff, Friedman, Hoffman & Goodman, where he did white-collar legal defense work. Bharara first entered the public sector as chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer when Schumer was charged with investigating the 2006 presidential dismissal of U.S. attorneys. He transferred to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2004 as an assistant U.S. Attorney, launching his career as a federal prosecutor. ..... Bharara similarly headed various counter-terrorism probes and cases, particularly against Al-Qaeda.

His office used a variety of unconventional tactics to close cases like wiretapping and asset seizure. He prosecuted nearly 100 Wall Street executives for insider trading and securities fraud using these legal methods. Bharara closed multi-million dollar settlements with the four largest banks in the country, and, most notably, shut down multiple high-profile hedge funds. Known for his technocratic approach to prosecution, he routinely convicted both Democratic and Republican politicians on public corruption violations. Bharara occasionally pursued criminals extraterritorially. Following a 2013 Russian money laundering investigation, Russian officials had him permanently banned from entering Russia. The prosecution of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade by his office in 2013 led to a strain in India–United States relations.

Upon the election of former U.S. President Donald Trump, Bharara was dismissed after refusing to submit his resignation as part of the 2017 dismissal of U.S. attorneys. After leaving government, he went into academia. He joined the New York University School of Law's criminal justice faculty. He authored his first book, Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law, in 2019. He also launched a series of podcasts including Stay Tuned with Preet and Doing Justice.

Early life and career

Bharara was born in 1968 in Firozpur, Punjab, India, to a Sikh father and Hindu mother. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1970, and Bharara became a U.S. citizen at age 12. He grew up in Eatontown in suburban Monmouth County, New Jersey and attended Ranney School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1986.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1990. He then received a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School in 1993, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review.

In 1993, Bharara joined the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a litigation associate. In 1996, Bharara joined the firm of Shereff, Friedman, Hoffman & Goodman, where he did white-collar defense work. He was an assistant United States Attorney in Manhattan for five years, from 2000 to 2005, bringing criminal cases against the bosses of the Gambino crime family, Colombo crime family and Asian gangs in New York City. Bharara served as the chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer and played a leading role in the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary investigation into the firings of United States attorneys.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Bharara was nominated to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2009, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He was sworn into the position on August 13, 2009. In September 2014, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced his intention to step down, Bharara was speculated as being a potential candidate as the next United States Attorney General, although Holder's ultimate named successor was Loretta Lynch.

International investigations

Preet Bharara 2011
Bharara (right) waits with Attorney General Eric Holder to announce charges related to the 2011 alleged Iran assassination plot.

..... One case involved Viktor Bout. Bout was an arms trafficker, who lived in Moscow and had a deal involving selling arms to Colombian terrorists. Bharara argued that this aggressive approach is necessary in post 9/11 era. Defense lawyers criticized the stings, calling Bharara's office "the Southern District of the World." They also argued that American citizens would not appreciate other countries' treating them in such ways. Countries have not always rushed to cooperate. This is according to a review of secret State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

On April 13, 2013, Bharara was on a list released by the Russian Federation of Americans banned from entering the country over their alleged human rights violations. The list was a direct response to the so-called Magnitsky list revealed by the United States the day before.

Public corruption

Bharara has said that "there is no prosecutor’s office in the state that takes more seriously the responsibility to root out public corruption in Albany and anywhere else that we might find it, and I think our record speaks for itself." During his tenure, Bharara has charged several current and former officials in public corruption cases, including Senator Vincent Leibell, Senator Hiram Monserrate, NYC Councilman Larry Seabrook, and Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi. Bharara’s office uncovered an alleged corruption ring involving New York State Senator Carl Kruger. In April 2012, Kruger was sentenced to seven years in federal prison. In February 2011, Bharara announced the indictment of five consultants working on New York City’s electronic payroll and timekeeping project, CityTime, for misappropriating more than $80 million from the project. The investigation has expanded with five additional defendants being charged, including a consultant who allegedly received more than $5 million in illegal kickbacks on the projects.

..... Bharara and his team argued that Valle had done more than hypothesize, think, or speculate (in online networks where such fantasies are discussed), but had moved on from being a possible danger to others to the criminal planning phase and had even visited the street where one of the women lived, at the behest of another defendant. However, the defense and others who objected to the verdict argued that all he had done was fantasize, not plan, and that such thoughts or online posts, however twisted, were still protected. The defense team (Robert Baum and Julia L. Gatto) may ask the judge to set aside the verdict, or may appeal. If he does keep the felony conviction and is sentenced, Valle would automatically no longer serve in law enforcement.

On April 2, 2013, Bharara unsealed federal corruption charges against New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, and several other Republican party officials. The federal complaint alleged that Smith attempted to secure a spot on the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral election through bribery and fraud.

New York Moreland Commission

In 2014, Bharara's office began an inquiry into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to end the work of the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel. After a New York Times report documenting Cuomo's staff's involvement with the commission and subsequent statements by commissioners defending the Governor, Bharara warned of obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Bharara made national headlines after investigating 11-term Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver for taking millions of dollars in payoffs, leading to Silver's arrest in January 2015. Silver was subsequently convicted on all counts, triggering his automatic expulsion from the Assembly. Silver was replaced by the first African-American speaker Carl Heastie. During the Silver prosecution, Judge Valerie Caproni criticized Bharara's public statements, writing that "while castigating politicians in Albany for playing fast and loose with the ethical rules that govern their conduct, Bharara strayed so close to the edge of the rules governing his own conduct."

Terrorism prosecutions

Under Bharara, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York "won a string of major terrorism trials." Bharara was an advocate of trying terrorists in civilian federal courts rather than in the military commissions at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. He contrasted his office's record of successfully convicting terrorists with the lengthy, secretive, and inefficient Guantanamo practice. In a 2014 interview, Bharara said the historical record would show that "greater transparency and openness and legitimacy" leads to "more serious and appropriate punishment." Citing his success in terrorism trials, Bharara stated: "These trials have been difficult, but they have been fair and open and an American civilian courtroom, the American people and all the victims of terrorism can be vindicated without sacrificing our principles."

Some of the high-profile terrorist figures convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment during Bharara's term include Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law.; They also included Khalid al-Fawwaz and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Osama bin Laden aides who plotted the 1998 United States embassy bombings that killed 224 people; Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, a cleric who masterminded the 1998 kidnappings of 16 American, British and Australian tourists in Yemen; and Faisal Shahzad, the attempted Times Square bomber. Bharara also won a massive conviction and 25-year sentence for international arms smuggler Viktor Bout.


In June 2012, The New York Times published an op-ed written by Bharara about the threat posed to private industry by cybercrime and encouraged corporate leaders to take preventive measures and create contingency plans.

Bharara's tenure saw a number of notable prosecutions for computer hacking:

  • Bharara's office worked with Hector Xavier Monsegur ("Sabu"), a computer hacker who later became a federal informant. Because Monsegur's cooperation "helped the authorities infiltrate the shadowy world of computer hacking and disrupt at least 300 cyberattacks on targets that included the United States military," Bharara's office recommended a greatly reduced sentence to the judge, and in 2014 Monsegur was freed with only some of the time served.
  • In May 2014, Bharara's office was part of an international crackdown, led by the FBI and authorities in 19 countries, on the "Blackshades" creepware hacking, in which hackers illicitly access users' systems remotely to steal information.
  • In November 2015, Bharara's office charged three Israeli men in a 23-count indictment that alleged that they ran an extensive computer hacking and fraud scheme that targeted JPMorgan Chase, The Wall Street Journal, and ten other companies. According to prosecutors, the operation generated "hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal profit" and exposed the personal information of more than 100 million people.
  • In November 2016, Bharara's office filed charges against a Phoenix, Arizona man, Jonathan Powell, for hacking into thousands of email accounts at Pace University and another university and mining those accounts for users' confidential information.
  • In December 2016, Bharara's office charged three Chinese citizens with hacking into the system of New York law firms advising on mergers and acquisitions, and making more than $4 million by trading on information they gained.
  • Also in December 2016, Bharara's office charged an executive of the Pakistani-based company Axact with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection. Prosecutors say that the company carried out a $140 million diploma mill that defrauded thousands of consumers across the world.

Bharara moved to shut down several of the world's largest Internet poker companies. He prosecuted several payment processors for Internet poker companies. He effectively secured guilty pleas for money laundering. In April 2011, Bharara charged 11 founding members of internet gambling companies and their associates involved with pay processing with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). The case is United States v. Scheinberg.

Devyani Khobragade incident

Bharara and his office came to the limelight again in December 2013 with the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General of India in New York, who was accused by prosecutors of submitting false work visa documents for her housekeeper and paying the housekeeper "far less than the minimum legal wage." The ensuing incident caused protests from the Indian government and a rift in India–United States relations; Indians expressed outrage that Khobragade was strip-searched (a routine practice for all U.S. Marshals Service arrestees) and held in the general inmate population. The Indian government retaliated for what it viewed as the mistreatment of its consular official by revoking the ID cards and other privileges of U.S. consular personnel and their families in India and removing security barriers in front of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

Khobragade was subject to prosecution at the time of her arrest because she had only consular immunity (this which gives one immunity from prosecution only for acts committed in connection with official duties) and not the more extensive diplomatic immunity. After her arrest, the Indian government moved Khobragade to the Indian's mission to the U.N., upgrading her status and conferring diplomatic immunity on her; as a result, the federal indictment against Khobragade was dismissed in March 2014, although the door was left open to refiling of charges. A new indictment was filed against Khobragade, but by that point she had left the country.

Speaking at Harvard Law School during its 2014 Class Day ceremony, Bharara said that it was the U.S. Department of State, rather than his office that initiated and investigated proceedings against Khobragade and who asked his office to prosecute.

Reason magazine subpoena

During Bharara's term, the U.S. Attorney's Office investigated six Internet comments made on the website of Reason magazine in which anonymous readers made comments about U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York like "Its [sic] judges like these that should be taken out back and shot" and "Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly." (The comments were made under an article in the magazine of Forrest's sentencing of Silk Road owner Ross William Ulbricht to life in prison without parole.) In June 2015, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena to the libertarian magazine, demanding that it provide identifying information for the commenters. Following the issuance of the subpoena, federal prosecutors applied for an order from a U.S. magistrate judge forbidding the magazine from disclosing the existence of the subpoena to the commenters.

The subpoena became public after being obtained by Popehat's Ken White. The nondisclosure order caused controversy, with critics saying that it infringed the constitutional right to free speech and questioning whether the comments were actually serious threats or merely hyperbolic "trolling." Federal prosecutors dropped the matter as moot. Reason magazine editors Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie characterized the subpoena and nondisclosure order as "suppressing the speech of journalistic outlets known to be critical of government overreach."


Following the 2016 election, Bharara met with then-president-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in November 2016. Bharara said that Trump asked him to remain as U.S. Attorney, and he agreed to stay on.

On March 10, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all 46 remaining United States Attorneys who were holdovers from the Obama administration, including Bharara, to submit letters of resignation. Bharara declined to resign and was fired the next day from Trump's administration. In a statement, Bharara said that serving as U.S. Attorney was "the greatest honor of my professional life" and that "one hallmark of justice is absolute independence and that was my touchstone every day that I served." He was succeeded by his deputy attorney, Joon Kim, as acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

There were expressions of dismay over the firing from Howard Dean, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, and New York State Republican Assemblymen Steve McLaughlin and Brian Kolb, the Assembly Minority Leader.

It has been reported that in spring 2017, Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz told associates that he had been personally responsible for getting Bharara fired. It is alleged that Kasowitz had warned Trump, "This guy is going to get you." Bharara said a series of conversational phone calls from Trump made him increasingly uncomfortable about the appearance of potential improper contact between his office and Trump's. He claims he finally refused to take a phone call from Trump, and was dismissed 22 hours later.

Later career

On April 1, 2017, Bharara joined New York University School of Law as a distinguished scholar in residence. In September 2017 he started a weekly podcast called "Stay Tuned with Preet", which features long-form interviews with prominent guests. In 2018, Bharara started a second podcast with former New Jersey Attorney General and fellow law professor Anne Milgram, "Cafe Insider", which also provides legal commentary on the latest news. After Milgram was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, she was replaced as co-host with former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance.

Portrayal in fiction

The Showtime television series Billions gives a fictional portrayal of the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York's prosecution of financial crimes. The series is loosely based on the investigation of hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen of S.A.C. Capital Advisors by Bharara's office. The show's fictional SDNY U.S. Attorney Charles "Chuck" Rhoades Jr., played by Paul Giamatti, was partly inspired by Bharara.

Personal life

Preet Bahara 2012 Shankbone
Bharara with his wife at the 2012 Time 100 gala

Bharara is married to Dalya Bharara, a non-practicing lawyer. They live in Scarsdale, New York, with their three children. In interviews, Bharara "has reflected on his family's diverse religious heritage: Sikh (his father), Hindu (his mother), Muslim (his wife's father) and Jewish (his wife's grandmother)."

Bharara became a naturalized United States citizen in 1980. Bharara is a registered Democrat but "not considered a strong partisan." His nomination to the U.S. Attorney's post in 2009 was welcomed across the political spectrum as Bharara was regarded as an "apolitical and fair-minded" figure.

Bharara's younger brother Vinit "Vinnie" Bharara, also a graduate of Columbia Law School, is an entrepreneur. Vinnie Bharara and Marc Lore co-founded Quidsi, the parent company of and, which they sold in 2010 to for $540 million.

Bharara traces his desire to become a lawyer back to the seventh grade, which was when he read the play Inherit the Wind.

In 2012, Bharara was named by Time magazine as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World," and by India Abroad as its 2011 Person of the Year.

Bharara is a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan. Springsteen shouted, "This is for Preet Bharara!" before launching into his song "Death to My Hometown" at an October 2012 concert in Hartford, Connecticut.

In 2013, Bharara delivered the commencement address at Fordham Law School in New York and received an honorary Doctor of Laws. Later that week, Bharara delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, Columbia Law School, during his 20th reunion year. In 2014, Bharara delivered the commencement address at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law also in New York and spoke at Harvard Law School's Class Day Ceremony. In 2016, Bharara delivered the commencement address at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, New Jersey. In 2018, Bharara delivered the commencement address at St. John's University School of Law in New York. In 2022, Bharara delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, Columbia Law School.

Bharara was included in Bloomberg Markets Magazine's 2012 "50 Most Influential" list as well as Vanity Fair's 2012 and 2013 annual "New Establishment" lists.

See also

  • Indians in the New York City metropolitan region
  • Legal affairs of Donald Trump
kids search engine
Preet Bharara Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.