Brooke Cucinella, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan who prosecuted sports gambler William “Billy” Walters, is joining Simpson Thacher & Bartlett as a litigation partner in September.
Cucinella, a federal prosecutor for the past six years, was most recently a senior member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. There, she was responsible for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes such as accounting fraud, insider trading, market manipulation, wire fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud and money laundering.
Cucinella, 40, was the lead prosecutor in the investigation and prosecution of Walters, charged in a $40 million insider trading scheme—the largest insider case brought against an individual in the Southern District. Walters was sentenced to five years in prison last year.
She was also on the prosecution team in the case against a federal government employee, a consultant and two hedge fund portfolio managers of Deerfield Management, all convicted of insider trading after a five-week trial that ended in May. Previously, she prosecuted and secured the conviction of Sean Stewart, a former JPMorgan Chase vice president accused of feeding confidential inside information about clients to his father. (Stewart was ordered released from prison in June pending the outcome of an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.)
Before joining the Southern District office, Cucinella was counsel at O’Melveny & Myers.
Cucinella said she left the office this month because “it was a natural time” for an exit, after wrapping up the Deerfield case—her 10th trial in the office—and arguing an appeal in the Walters case.
While Cucinella spoke with a couple other law firms for options, ”it was really the lineup of litigators” and Simpson partners with senior government experience that convinced her to join the firm, she said. She noted the recent additions of Keith Noreika, who rejoined Simpson in January after serving as the acting comptroller of the currency; and Michael Osnato Jr., previously the chief of the SEC’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit, who joined Simpson in February 2017.
Cucinella said meeting with Stephen Cutler, who joined the firm earlier this year from JPMorgan Chase & Co., was also key in moving to Simpson.
She is the first Southern District prosecutor to join Simpson in several years. Other Southern District alums at Simpson include Nick Goldin, who joined in 2010; Josh Levine, in 2007; and Mark Stein, who joined Simpson in 2005.
Cucinella said she “absolutely” continues to see a demand for defense practitioners representing clients in investigations, despite reports of a shift in enforcement priorities under the Trump administration. “There’s ongoing government investigations as well as internal investigations,” she said. “Given the platform that Simpson Thacher offers and its diversity of clients, it’s a great time to join,” she added.