(Recasts with confirmation, reaction)
By Edith Honan
NEW YORK Feb 27 After 35 years on the job,
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said on Friday he
will not seek re-election to a position in which he has focused
in recent years on prosecuting serious financial crimes.
Morgenthau, 89, has served as Manhattan district attorney
longer than anyone else in history, outlasting countless actors
who played the role of the D.A. in film and television dramas.
He said he will continue serving another 10 months until
his current term ends.
"Some people are slow learners and it took me a long time
to realize that I was getting older," Morgenthau said at a news
conference announcing his decision.
He has been a fixture in the New York Democratic Party for
decades. His father served as U.S. treasury secretary and his
grandfather was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg described him as "a New York
Institution," saying, "few people have served the city longer
or more ably." Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said: "He's
just an icon, he's a legend."
But Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman called
Morgenthau's tenure a "mixed bag" whose work on white collar
cases was often done "on the fly" and with an unclear agenda.
As chief prosecutor for state crimes in the New York City
borough, he has focused on white collar crime and Wall Street
misdeeds in recent years as violent crime fell in Manhattan.
Morgenthau's decision was first reported by the New York
Post, which cited "several sources" saying that he had begun
privately calling top deputies into his office to inform them.
He has long kept the press and politicians guessing about
his future. When asked about it in a 2007 interview with
Reuters, he said, "Skip retirement. That's precocious."
Voters in the Democratic, Republican and smaller parties
will choose their candidates for district attorney in September
with the winners of the primaries competing for the post in
HIRED BY KENNEDY, FIRED BY NIXON
Before making his first of eight runs for district attorney
in 1974, Morgenthau served as U.S. Attorney in Manhattan,
having been appointed by John F. Kennedy and fired by Richard
His father was longtime Treasury Secretary Henry
Morgenthau, Jr., who was appointed by Franklin Roosevelt during
the Great Depression in 1934. His grandfather Henry Morgenthau,
Sr. was Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War One.
At least two people have expressed desire for the job.
Leslie Crocker Snyder, a former judge who lost to
Morgenthau in the Democratic primary four years ago, has said
she will run again for the post.
Cyrus Vance Jr., the son of a former U.S. secretary of
state, filed papers to launch a "Cyrus Vance for District
Attorney" committee a year ago.
The Post named Morgenthau's longtime deputy Dan Castleman
as another possible candidate.
Morgenthau's office won conviction of former Tyco
International Ltd. Chief Executive Dennis Kozlowski, who was
sentenced to 25 years for looting the conglomerate, and
investigated the Bank of Credit and Commerce International
(BCCI) fraud scandal.
BCCI, a Middle East-backed bank, was shut down by
regulators around the world in July 1991.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Edith Honan; Writing by Daniel
Trotta; Editing by Eric Walsh)