Robert Morgenthau - New York prosecutor who battled the mafia (died age 99)


Executive Member
Jul 5, 2009
When Robert Morgenthau passed away in New York, aged 99, he died where he had fought.

As one of America's longest-serving public prosecutors, he proved to be the scourge of mobsters, crooked politicians and white collar criminals.

The legendary lawyer oversaw some of the city's most sensational cases, from the murder of John Lennon to the jailing of the Central Park Five.

His career even inspired the writers of long-running American crime drama Law and Order.

By the time of his retirement at age 90, Morgenthau had become a New York institution.
Following a brief return to private practice, and a stint as deputy mayor, he joined the world of public prosecution again - this time, as District Attorney of New York County.

For the next 32 years, Morgenthau served as New York's top prosecutor.

When he was first elected in 1975, the city was in the midst of a crisis, fuelled by government bankruptcy and rampant crime. That year, 648 people were murdered in Manhattan alone.

In his early years as district attorney, Morgenthau took aim at career criminals, crooked landlords and child pornographers, and promoted the use of modern investigation techniques like DNA testing.

He oversaw the expansion of the office's homicide team, hired Spanish-speaking interpreters and hundreds of black, Hispanic and female lawyers. He also established new teams to deal with sex crimes and consumer affairs.

Along with violent crime, Morgenthau continued his work against corporate corruption and the mafia, and took on dozens of accountants and specialised detectives.

Under his leadership, the district attorney's office oversaw several high-profile cases, successfully prosecuting mob bosses John Gotti and Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo.

His victories also included the 2005 conviction of L. Dennis Kozlowski, who stole more than $100m (£80.1m) from Tyco security firm whilst working as its chief executive.