Gary Brown, a Long Islander with a career as a private attorney, prosecutor and federal magistrate, was recommended Thursday by Sen. Charles Schumer to be a U.S. District Court judge on Long Island.
Brown, 51, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School, is probably best known for his 2014 decision as a magistrate who uncovered possible underpayment or unfair denial of claims for superstorm Sandy victims.
The nomination is up to President Barack Obama, but the White House usually follows the recommendation of a senator from the president's party. Confirmation is up to the Senate.
Brown, who was raised in Elmont and lives in Setauket, would replace Judge Sandra Feuerstein, who took senior status in May, in the Central Islip court. Schumer said he and his selection committee could not praise Brown's legal career too highly, but his Sandy decisions "sealed the deal."
"Gary Brown is a proven leader with an exceptionally strong legal and public service background," Schumer said.
Brown's "historic" decision requiring flood insurance companies to release engineering reports and documents used to deny Sandy claims led to FEMA's overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program, Schumer said.
"Judge Brown wrote . . . that it appears engineers falsified reports to avoid paying homeowners, 'worse yet, evidence suggests that these unprincipled practices may be widespread,' " the senator said.
A cross-section of Long Island attorneys who worked with Brown, opposed him in cases or appeared before him in his current role as magistrate agreed with Schumer's assessment.
"I can't think of a better candidate for a federal judgeship than Gary Brown," said prominent Hauppauge defense attorney Anthony La Pinta. "He is most deserving of his honor, as he clearly represents the highest standards of the legal community."
Defense attorney Joseph Conway of Mineola, who worked with Brown when both were federal prosecutors, said the candidate would be "a perfect addition to the Eastern District bench."
Conway replaced Brown as head of the U.S. attorney's office on Long Island when Brown left to enter the private sector as a top litigator for CA Technologies. Brown worked for CA Technologies from 2005 to 2011, then returned to federal service as a magistrate in Central Islip.When Brown was sworn in, another former prosecutorial colleague, then-Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko noted that as a prosecutor Brown helped create the Long Island Gang Task Force, which has led to the conviction of hundreds of gang members.