Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced Monday the appointment of Mark Lesko, a former Brookhaven Town supervisor. as chief assistant U.S. Attorney — the No. 2 person in the office.
Lesko, 52, has had a wide-raging career, including his election three times as Brookhaven supervisor and service as vice president for economic development at Hofstra University, and as the head of Accelerate, a multi-organization effort to develop biotech companies on Long Island. At Yale, he was the football team’s quarterback.
The office has about 175 federal prosecutors, and is responsible for federal law enforcement in Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Lesko was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the office from 2002 to 2009, rising to deputy head of the criminal division on Long Island. In that role, he prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including that of a couple convicted of keeping two Indonesian woman as slaves in their Muttontown mansion; as well as of street gangs; a major polluter in Port Jefferson Station; and several major corporate executives.
A longtime Long Island resident, Lesko grew up in Washington, D.C., and, after Yale, graduated from Georgetown Law School.
At Yale, Lesko threw the winning touchdown pass in the annual Yale-Harvard freshman game. He is quick to note that was the freshman Yale-Harvard game, not The Game.
Lesko’s selection as chief deputy was met with wide praise from the legal community, as well as from the business and economic communities
Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz said: “ I have nothing but admiration for Mark. He is very intelligent and thoughtful. He did a wonderful job here. . . . We’re sorry to see him go. But he started as a prosecutor and that’s his first love.”
Kevin Law, head of the Long Island Association, said: “Mark is a smart, hardworking and honorable attorney, and Long Island is fortunate to have someone like him to be appointed to such a high position.”
Prominent defense attorney Steve Zissou said in a statement: “Mark Lesko is an outstanding lawyer that has represented the Eastern District of New York with honor and integrity. U.S. Attorney Donoghue could not have selected a better person to help him lead the finest district in the country.”
James McGovern, former head of the criminal division in the office, who is now a partner at Hogan Lovells in Manhattan, said: “Mark Lesko is the consummate federal prosecutor: He’s smart, hardworking, reasonable and committed to the mission of justice … the entire EDNY community [is] thrilled about his return as Chief Assistant, and we look forward to the continuation of the great work of the office under his stewardship.”
Lesko replaces Bridget Rohde who was named Donoghue’s special counsel. Before Donoghue was confirmed as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Rohde had been the acting U.S. Attorney.
Donoghue also announced the appointment of Jacquelyn Kasulis as acting chief of the Criminal Division. Kasulis, head of the office’s Business and Securities Fraud section, was born in Nassau County and lived in Mineola, where her father was a doctor at Winthrop Hospital, until she was 5 years old. Her family then moved to Florida. Kasulis is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Davidson College.
She has prosecuted several of the region’s major white-collar crime cases with national impact, including that of Martin Shkreli, founder of the pharmaceutical company, Retrophin. Most recently, Kasulis headed up the investigation and prosecution of a multibillion-dollar bribery and money laundering case involving two former Goldman Sachs bankers and a wealthy Malaysian financier.
Kasulis replaces Seth DuCharme, who has joined the staff of William Barr, the recently named U.S. attorney general.
“Seth’s appointment by the Attorney General speaks volumes about his capabilities and accomplishments, and also reflects this office’s standing within the Department,” Donoghue said in a memo.