New York City’s top corruption watchdog is leaving federal role

Margaret Garnett, commissioner of the New York City agency that rootes out corruption in local government, will step down and become the number 2 officer in the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, that office said Wednesday.

Ms Garnett, who previously spent 12 years as a Southern District prosecutor, has been the city’s commission of investigation since late 2018, when she was nominated to the position by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last week, perhaps in his final report as commissioner, his office, the Department of Investigation, criticized Mr. de Blasio’s use of his security details for political and personal reasons, including trips he made during his presidential campaign – Conclusion Meyer drew sharp criticism.

At her confirmation hearing for the city’s position, Ms. Garnett told council members that she would “hang” if anyone called her and tried to pressure her to stop the city’s investigation.

Ms Garnett’s new appointment was announced by Damian Williams, who was sworn in on Sunday as the new US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Mr Williams hired longtime white-collar defense attorney Daniel M. Gittner, which includes about 175 assistant U.S. attorneys.

The Southern District has long been known for its handling of complex federal prosecutions of fraud and corruption.

The office is preparing to prosecute Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime partner Ghislaine Maxwell on sex-trafficking and other charges next month. Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty. The office was held by former New York City Mayor, former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyer and once the Southern District is also investigating US Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani over his behavior in Ukraine ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Mr Giuliani has denied wrongdoing.

In a pending terrorism prosecution, the Southern District has said it will seek the death penalty if it receives the sentence of Saifulo Saipov, an Uzbek man charged in the 2017 truck attack that killed eight people on a Manhattan bike path. The deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since September 11, 2001.

Mr. Saipov carried out the attack with the aim of joining Islamic State, a federal indictment has alleged; He has pleaded not guilty.

Announcing the appointments, Mr Williams said Mrs Garnett’s “illustrious career in public service will no doubt make her an exceptional Deputy US Attorney,” and added that Mr Gittner “is one of the best trial lawyers in America”. were one.” He left his previous job as the Southern District Prosecutor in 2005.

Mr Gittner, who briefly headed the Southern District’s general crime unit, has been a partner at the law firm Lankler Seifert & Wohl since 2005. Ms. Garnett’s career has included working as a senior official in the state Attorney General’s office. In an email to her staff on Wednesday, she said she would resign on November 10, and Daniel Kort, the agency’s first deputy commissioner, would take over as acting commissioner.

She said she feels “extraordinarily fortunate to have had this opportunity to serve the people of New York City with all of you for the past three years.”

“You inspire me every day to speak the truth, to hold people accountable regardless of power or position, and to give New Yorkers the honest government they deserve,” he wrote.

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