Federal Government, S.D.N.Y., U.S. Attorneys Offices, Wall Street, White-Collar Crime

A Portrait Of A Prosecutor: 5 Fun Facts About Preet Bharara

Mindy Kaling and Preet Bharara at the Harvard Law School commencement.

The legal world doesn’t have too many “crossover celebrities,” figures who are big enough to be known outside our little corner of the world. We can all think of a few — Alan Dershowitz, Judge Judy, Supreme Court justices (arguably) — and not all of them are awesome (cough cough, Nancy Grace).

One of the youngest crossover celebrities is Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He’s been on the cover of Time magazine. He’s attended the Vanity Fair Oscars party.

Bharara is best known for his crackdown on Wall Street abuses and insider trading, but he’s a fun person underneath the prosecutor’s dark suit. Yesterday the New York Times ran an interesting profile of Bharara. Here are some highlights….

1. He doesn’t think he wants to go through the revolving door:

I’m not sure I have a taste for private practice. My concern is I’m not sure I have a taste for anything but [working in government].

Of course, we’ve heard other U.S. Attorneys say similar things and then do differently. Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. Attorney for Chicago, sounded skeptical notes when someone asked him about whether he’d become a defense lawyer, but then went off and joined Skadden. (For the record, Fitzgerald focuses more on internal investigations — which can be like prosecutorial work in some respects — as opposed to hard-core criminal defense.)

2. Bharara has a self-deprecating sense of humor. Here’s his quip on his having a high profile:

This is what it must feel like to be a Kardashian.

Don’t get ahead of yourself, Preet — wait until you have your own video game.

3. He’s a huge Bruce Springsteen fan:

Bruce Springsteen gave him a shout-out at a concert…. The Boss also posed for a photo with Mr. Bharara’s son, an image that is now pinned on Mr. Bharara’s office wall; nearby hangs a picture of Mr. Bharara’s mother with the rocker.

4. He has a very rich and successful brother:

His brother and a business partner sold a start-up Internet diaper company for about $540 million to Amazon.com; Mr. Bharara said he had held only a small investment in the company.

We’ve mentioned Preet’s brother, Vinnie Bharara, in these pages before. There’s a rumor that Preet’s “small investment” in his brother’s company turned into something much bigger, thanks to the Amazon deal, and helps Preet stay in public service without too much financial pain.

5. He has hilarious responses to his critics — for example, those who attacked his prosecution of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade:

Mr. Bharara has laughed off some of the insults, including criticism in the Indian press that he undertook the Khobragade prosecution to “serve his white masters.”

“Presumably Eric Holder and Barack Obama,” Mr. Bharara deadpanned.

Still, in the wake of the Khobragade controversy, Bharara has been advised to stay away from India. And other places too:

[The Khobragade case] was not the first time Mr. Bharara ignited international outrage. Russia banned him over the prosecution of the notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

“You could do a whole article on just the places that I can’t go,” Mr. Bharara joked. “Russia. Switzerland.” He paused. “Albany.”

Not being able to visit Switzerland is a loss. Russia and Albany, not so much.

In Five Years, a Federal Prosecutor Has Taken On Terrorism, Corruption and Cuomo [New York Times]

Earlier: An Evening With Preet Bharara
Fun (and Depressing) Fact of the Day: Two-Thirds of Americans Are Pretty Freakin’ Dumb

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