The Corner

Loretta Lynch Responds to Reporting on Allegations She Slighted Victims’ Rights

Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch has finally responded to allegations that she failed to follow key provisions of federal law during her tenure as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. As NRO has previously reported, Lynch’s office appeared to have let self-professed criminals walk free in exchange for their cooperation, watched impassively as they committed further crimes, and intentionally kept the victims of those crimes in the dark — denying them their legal right to seek restitution.

In 2013, former federal judge Paul Cassell testified before the House Judiciary Committee, and encouraged them to look at how Lynch’s office had handled a stock fraud case. That case involved Felix Sater, a convicted fraudster with ties to the mafia. Utah senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Lynch to respond to Cassell’s testimony. He also asked whether Lynch had complied with federal laws that ensure restitution is provided to crime victims. 

In a written response to Hatch obtained by NRO, Lynch replied that Sater’s cooperation with her office was crucial to national security, and declined to discuss the issue of restitution in his case:

The defendant in question, Felix Sater, provided valuable and sensitive information to the government during the course of his cooperation, which began in or about December 1998. For more than 10 years, he worked with prosecutors from my Office, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and law enforcement agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies, providing information crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra. For that reason, his case was initially sealed. . . . 

In terms of restitution, there has been speculation that my Office pursues restitution from cooperating defendants differently than it does from other defendants. It does not. With respect to Sater’s case, the information in the record that concerns the issue of restitution remains under seal. As a matter of practice, however, the prosecutors in my Office work diligently to secure all available restitution for victims, whether the defendants convicted in their cases cooperate with the government or not.

You can read Lynch’s full response here, along with her answers to other questions submitted by Hatch. Hatch’s office confirmed the authenticity of Lynch’s response, and said the senator looks forward to discussing the matter with Lynch in greater detail.

“Ms. Lynch’s office had been criticized for its approach to protecting the rights of crime victims in general, and for its handling of one case involving restitution in particular,” said a spokesman for Hatch in a statement. “She was not in a position to respond when those criticisms were raised in blogs or in venues such as the House Judiciary Committee. Sen. Hatch wanted to give her an opportunity to address these issues and explain this particular case on the record. He looks forward to speaking with her further about this issue in the future.”

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