Robert Capers, a veteran federal prosecutor, was confirmed Tuesday evening by the Senate as the new U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, making him the chief federal law enforcement official for Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
The confirmation was by voice vote without any opposition.
Capers had been the acting U.S. attorney, replacing Loretta Lynch when she became attorney general.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who recommended that President Obama nominate Capers for the position, said in a statement Tuesday night he is a “professional and utterly dedicated both to the law and to the Eastern District.”
“Guided by his 22 years of experience, his fine family and his skill, he will be an exemplary U.S. Attorney, and I am very pleased the Senate has confirmed him,” Schumer said.
Capers, who has been a federal prosecutor in the office’s Public Integrity Unit, figured prominently in the media recently in announcing the arrest and indictment of James Burke, the former Suffolk County police chief.
Burke, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held without bail as a danger to the community on charges both of violating the civil rights of a Smithtown man who had stolen the chief’s duffel bag and then of engaging in obstruction of justice by orchestrating a massive cover-up of the attack.
At a news conference at the federal courthouse in Central Islip last week, Capers was asked if anyone else in Suffolk law enforcement was under investigation. He replied simply, “Stay tuned.”
As a prosecutor in the office before his nomination to the top job, Capers was a key member in the corruption conviction of Brooklyn Assemb. William Boyland.
When Schumer recommended Capers to the president in May, he said Capers, who is black and whose father and brothers were New York City police officers, “understands the delicate balance between protecting the community from the threat of crime and protecting the civil rights of the people in the community.”
Capers was born in the Bronx and graduated from New York University, where he was co-captain of the basketball team, and from Albany law school. He has been a federal prosecutor since 2003. Before that he was a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.