Robert Capers, the former Eastern District of New York U.S. attorney who prosecuted pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, FIFA soccer officials and major financial institutions, has joined his first law firm, Arent Fox, the firm announced Monday.
Capers, who was a career prosecutor for more than 20 years, will co-lead Arent Fox’s government enforcement and white-collar practice.
“This is my first foray into private practice,” said Capers, 47, who started Monday at the firm as a partner.
When he became U.S. attorney for the Eastern District in 2015, he said, he knew at some point he would have to move on but wasn’t sure when. Until he lost that job on March 10, when President Donald Trump terminated Obama administration U.S. attorneys, he was “working the cases and letting the chips fall where they may,” he said.
After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office in March, Capers said he “kind of mourned the loss of a career and calling,” and then set out to determine his next move.
“The first step was finding a place that felt very comfortable for me and felt like home, working with a diverse group of people who were doing great work and who also understand the importance of balance and community service,” Capers said. “And I found that at Arent Fox.”
Capers said he was introduced to the firm by M. Scott Peeler, his former colleague at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in the 1990s. Peeler is now co-head of the firm’s government enforcement and white-collar group and head of complex litigation in New York.
At Arent Fox, Capers joins a white-collar defense group and a separate business compliance and monitorships team. This team advises corporations on best practices, conducts internal investigations, counsels boards of directors, creates compliance programs and represents clients in cases brought by the government.
Arent Fox, based in Washington, D.C., with about 100 attorneys in New York, has three active monitorships right now, including one for Crédit Agricole with the New York Department of Financial Services and two other confidential matters, Peeler said.
Peeler said the firm’s focus on compliance, monitorships and advising clients on following the law made it an ideal fit for Capers. “He’s not a guy who jumps for the first offer or just for the dollars,” he said.
Longtime Public Servant
Born in the Bronx and raised in Rockland County, Capers earned his law degree from Albany Law School in 1996.
He joined the Manhattan DA’s trial bureau immediately after graduation and was reassigned in 2000 to narcotics, where he worked in the special investigations bureau.
Capers joined the Eastern District in 2003 and held a variety of posts, including chief of the narcotics section and international narcotics strike force. He tried and second-chaired to verdict more than two dozen criminal trials, Arent Fox said.
In 2015, after then-Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch became U.S. attorney general, President Barack Obama nominated Capers for the job. He was confirmed by the Senate in December 2015.
As U.S. attorney, he oversaw the indictment of Shkreli; the extradition of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel; the indictments and extraditions of nearly 30 FIFA officials; the investigation of JPMorgan Chase & Co. for corrupt hiring practices in the Asia-Pacific region; and the agreement by Deutsche Bank to pay a record fine for misleading investors in the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities.
Capers said he considered other law firms and work outside law firms, acknowledging there are other firms with larger white-collar practices. But he said he found Arent Fox’ monitorship matters and other work “quite appealing.”
Asked whether he would ever return to public service, Capers said, “I don’t know what the future will hold and whether there will be another calling.”