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U.S. Attorney Robert Capers introduces himself to Brooklyn legal community

October 26, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Robert L. Capers took over as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York on Jan. 4, 2016, and he formally introduced himself to the Kings County Criminal Bar Association last Thursday. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

Robert Capers, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, made an informal introduction to many of his constituents early Thursday morning when he arrested Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and two others on bribery and fraud charges. Later that day, he more officially introduced himself to the legal community during a Kings County Criminal Bar Association meeting.

“I was born in the Bronx — please don’t hold that against me,” Capers joked.

Capers assumed office on Jan. 4, 2016 after being nominated for the position by President Barack Obama. He got his undergraduate degree from New York University and his law degree from Albany Law School. At Thursday’s meeting, he revealed that as a kid, he hoped to become a cop, like his dad, but eventually fate intervened and he emerged on a different path.

“When I was going to college, I aspired to take the police test like my dad. But I had a twin brother who was two minutes older than me — his name is John, just like my dad — and he beat me to the punch,” Capers said. “So because my brother was two minutes older than me, he took my dad’s name and took his career. My father said, ‘Somebody has to do something different.’ So I went to law school.”

Capers got his start in the legal profession as an intern at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He clerked for Hon. Sterling Johnson Jr., after which he went to work at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where he spent seven years. “Those were some of the best years of my formative career,” Capers said.

In 2003, Capers joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He worked his way from general crimes to a narcotics unit, then to prosecuting violent crimes and terrorism. He eventually became a supervisor, deputy chief in the General Crimes Unit.

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At one point, Capers left to work in Washington, D.C., but that lasted just six months. His return marked a turning point in his career as he went from being a “blue-collar prosecutor” to a white-collar one who targeted politicians and public officials who abused the public’s trust. It was during this time when Capers made a name for himself by prosecuting New York State Assemblymember William F. Boyland, state Sen. John Sampson and U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm.

“There is really something to be said about being able to restore people’s faith in the system,” Capers said.

After describing his background, Capers then began to discuss his role as U.S. attorney. He announced national security as his office’s biggest priority. He also explained how he will prosecute corporations and officials who defraud the public. He noted that his office would like to put into practice compliance procedures that will attempt to make whole the victims of corporate theft. He also referenced his days as a “blue-collar prosecutor” to emphasize that his office will never overlook violent crimes that directly impact communities.

To accomplish the goals he has for his office, Capers mentioned reaching out to the communities through school programs. He talked about one program that works with Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville where kids are taken into courts to meet with judges, court clerks, marshals and other court employees to try to entice them into aspiring to jobs within the legal community.

“I ask that you all, as a body, engage with our office on important issues that matter to this body and the defense bar in general,” Capers said. “We may not always agree on everything, but I promise you that we’ll keep an open mind to try to reach a resolution.”

 

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