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Alan Vinegrad, the federal prosecutor who oversaw the criminal prosecutions arising out of the Abner Louima police torture case, will join Washington, D.C.-based Covington & Burling as a partner in the firm’s New York office, effective Jan. 21. Vinegrad, 43, who served as interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York from June 2001 to September 2002, will focus on white-collar criminal defense at Covington. “We consider ourselves exceptionally fortunate to be adding a lawyer of Alan’s experience and caliber to our white-collar defense,” Covington Chairman Stuart Stock said in a statement. “Our work in this important area has been expanding rapidly, and Alan will provide valuable additional depth to our white-collar defense capability.” Though an interim U.S. Attorney, appointed to run the office while the Bush administration sought a Republic replacement for former U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, Vinegrad led the Brooklyn-based federal prosecutor’s office through a number of high-profile matters, particularly the Louima case. Vinegrad vigorously prosecuted the New York police officers accused of assaulting Louima, who had been wrongly arrested for participating in a fight. Vinegrad earned praise from many community leaders but also vilification from those who believed that one of the officers, Charles Schwarz, was innocent. Amid intense publicity, Schwarz was tried twice. In the first trial, he was convicted of violating Louima’s civil rights but those charges were later overturned. The second civil rights trial ended with a hung jury on the main charge but a perjury conviction for Schwarz. Vinegrad was prepared to bring a third trial when he and Schwarz’s attorney, Ronald Fischetti, agreed to an unusual settlement that hinged on Schwarz, his wife and Fischetti agreeing to refrain from making public statements proclaiming Schwarz’s innocence. Schwarz promised not to appeal his perjury conviction and accept a 5-year sentence, (he had already served some of that time following his first conviction), and Vinegrad promised to request a reduction in that sentence after 30 months were served.

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