MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Another big decision confronts the White House, the search for a new leader at the Justice Department. Sources familiar with the process tell NPR that Loretta Lynch, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, could be nominated as attorney general in the coming days. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has this profile.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Loretta Lynch is the lead federal prosecutor in a district that serves 8 million people. Outside of law enforcement circles, though, this daughter of a preacher is not widely known. Friends say that's because Lynch prefers to let her cases speak for themselves - cases like this one, a violent, sexual assault against Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In New York City, a former New York City policeman has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in connection with an assault on a Haitian immigrant. Prosecutors termed it one of the worst acts of police brutality in New York City history.
JOHNSON: Lynch, a graduate of Harvard Law School, worked her way up the ladder in Brooklyn, a huge office that handles everything from old-school mafia busts to new forms of cybercrime. Here's Lynch talking last year about a $45 million ATM robbery.
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LORETTA LYNCH: This was a 21st century bank heist. But instead of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and malware.
JOHNSON: More recently, Lynch made a splash for indicting a Republican congressman from Staten Island on fraud charges. That lawmaker, Michael Grimm, once worked as an undercover FBI agent, an irony Lynch pointed out at a news conference.
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LYNCH: Michael Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it.
JOHNSON: Grimm, who was just reelected, has pleaded not guilty. That's not the only politically sensitive case on her docket. Brooklyn prosecutors are also investigating money laundering allegations against an ally of Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin. If she's selected by Pres. Obama to lead the Justice Department, Lynch would become the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general. She was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1959, a year before black students there sat down at a whites-only lunch counter and helped catalyze protests around the country. Student Ezell Blair, Jr. remembered that era with NPR.
EZELL BLAIR, JR.: But I was prepared; if I'm going to die, then I'm going to die here taking my stand for what I believe to be right and true.
JOHNSON: In a speech two years ago, Lynch said her father opened his church to students as they planned their boycotts. As a toddler, she said, her father carried her to those meetings on his shoulders. The U.S. Senate has twice confirmed Lynch to be the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, once in the Clinton years and again in 2010 for Obama. In between, she worked for a law firm. But she never fully walked away from public service. One of her assignments involved investigating crimes for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In a 2012 speech, Lynch described hearing the story of a woman who survived an attack by hiding under a pile of dead bodies. It was an opportunity, Lynch said, to serve people and repay the gift of their trust. Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington.
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