Team Trump Ousts Top Federal Prosecutor Leading Mangano, Venditto Probes In Nationwide Shakeup


Robert Capers, the U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of New York, whose office indicted Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and previously prosecuted ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, was among 46 Obama-appointed federal prosecutors forced to resign Friday by the Trump administration.

In a short statement released late Friday afternoon, Capers said: “I was instructed to resign my position as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, effective March 10, 2017. It has been my greatest honor to serve my country, New York City and the people of this district for almost 14 years, with the last 17 months serving as United States Attorney.”

The Eastern District of New York covers Brooklyn and Long Island.

Capers, a career prosecutor, took over the position in December 2015 following Loretta Lynch’s appointment as U.S. Attorney General, which is now held by former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Capers does not appear to have been singled out. According to Reuters, he was reportedly among 46 Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys forced out by the Trump administration on Friday. No reason was given for the unceremonious departures.

It was unclear Friday afternoon whether crusading federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, was included in the mass shakeup.

The Eastern District of New York has a history of prosecuting corruption and terrorism cases. Capers followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Lynch, who prosecuted al-Qaeda recruits from the region, including one who plotted to blow up the Long Island Rail Road.

In the past month, Capers’ office brought federal racketeering and murder charges against more than a dozen members of the MS-13 gang, some of whom were indicted for the slayings of three Brentwood teenagers. His office also announced the arrest of a Commack man who allegedly tried to join two terror groups, including ISIS.

Other high-profile cases include the indictment of Mangano and ex-Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto on bribery charges, whose cases are pending. Mangano’s wife, Linda, was charged for a lucrative no-show job related to her husband’s alleged dealings.

In a separate corruption case, Capers’ team convinced a jury to convict former Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh for collecting a $200,000 salary for time spent other than at the Suffolk County jail, where he served as a correction lieutenant.

Under Capers, the Eastern District prosecuted James Burke, the retired Suffolk police chief who pleaded guilty to beating a burglary suspect and engineering a vast coverup. The suspect in that case, Christopher Loeb, was taken to Suffolk police’s Fourth Precinct, where he was chained and beaten by Burke. The police chief became involved after Loeb was arrested for breaking into Burke’s police-issued SUV and stealing a duffel bag containing Burke’s gun, ammo, porn and sex toys, prosecutors said.

Former President Barack Obama nominated Capers for the position in October 2015. The U.S. Senate appointed him two months later.

Bridget M. Rohde will take over Capers’ position until the president appoints a successor.