COURT: SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
CONFIRMED: JUNE 2007
APPOINTED BY: BUSH
Judge Richard Sullivan took a tough stand when it came time to set bail for Bernie Madoff’s right-hand man at an August 2009 hearing. Frank DiPascali had pled guilty to 10 charges, including aiding and abetting, conspiracy, money laundering, perjury, income tax evasion, and several counts of fraud. But he had also cooperated extensively with prosecutors, who recommended that DiPascali be released on $2.5 million bail until his sentencing. Sullivan, however, said no. “In light of the fact for decades that he made false statements to people that entrusted him with their life savings, I am not going to trust him with his life savings,” the judge explained. “I am just hoping he shows up to court.” DiPascali (who at press time had yet to be sentenced) spent almost a year in jail before Sullivan agreed to free him on $10 million bail.
Sullivan was on familiar ground in the case, since he had previously been a federal prosecutor who worked on cases involving drug dealers, corrupt bankers, and other criminals. Six attorneys who spoke to us about the judge described him as fair, intelligent, and prepared. “Richard Sullivan is a superstar,” says one partner at a Wall Street firm who declined to be named because he appears before Sullivan regularly. “He’s extremely bright, and he writes very well-written opinions. He’s conscientious, works incredibly hard, and he’s got good judgment.”
The judge, who joined the Manhattan bench in August 2007, is currently pushing other significant cases through his docket. This past August, Sullivan froze $6 million in assets of Well Advantage Limited and other unknown traders accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of insider trading in a $15 billion deal to acquire a Canadian oil and gas company. Sullivan is also hearing a case in which Capitol Records LLC alleges that its copyrights have been violated by Redigi Inc. because the cloud storage service allows its users to buy pre-owned digital music files. At press time the judge was set try the case in October. He will have to decide whether people who possess copyrighted digital material have the right to sell it, as owners of other forms of copyrighted material do under the first-sale doctrine.
After graduating from Yale Law School in 1990, Sullivan joined Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as an associate. In 1994 he became an assistant in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, where he headed the General Crimes Unit, and later helped found the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit. In 2005 he joined the law department of Marsh & McLennan Companies, eventually becoming general counsel of subsidiary Marsh Inc.