The former top prosecutor in the Justice Department's Fraud Section is joining the Washington office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges as co-chair of the firm's investigations and criminal defense practice.
Steven Tyrrell, who had led the Fraud Section since 2006, will work with Thomas Frongillo, a partner in Boston, to head up the firm’s criminal defense practice. Tyrrell’s move is effective Feb. 1. He left the Justice Department this month.
At Justice, Tyrrell supervised 60 lawyers in the Fraud Section, a unit of the Criminal Division that investigates and prosecutes fraud in the health care, securities and corporate arenas, among others. Tyrrell took part in crafting the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, announced in November. His move to the private sector comes as the Fraud Section is losing other senior attorneys, including Mark Mendelsohn, the head of the section’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act group. The No. 2 lawyer in the section, Paul Pelletier, is also planning to leave the department.
Tyrrell, who spent the past 20 years at the Justice Department, said he will bank on his experience in the Fraud Section as he jumps into private practice. “What I bring to the table is the knowledge and understanding of how large and significant matters get done from beginning to end,” said Tyrrell, who also once served as deputy chief of the Counterterrorism Section of the Criminal Division. Weil’s managing partner in the D.C. office, Michael Lyle, said in a statement that Tyrrell brings an “unparalleled depth of experience in investigation, prosecution and enforcement.”
Weil has committed to growing its white collar practice in D.C., Tyrrell said, and that factored into his decision to join the firm. “His formidable accomplishments in government service will further elevate the firm’s capabilities in white collar investigations and defense work,” Barry Wolf, co-chair of the firm’s corporate department, said in a statement.
The firm’s announcement comes the same day Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Criminal Division, are on Capitol Hill testifying about the department’s effort to combat financial fraud. Holder and Breuer appeared before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the ten-member bipartisan group that was established in the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009.
Holder called the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force the “cornerstone” of the department’s effort to fight fraud. The FBI, Holder said in remarks, is investigating more than 2,800 mortgage fraud cases—compared to the 534 investigations in 2004. (Tyrrell said today the magnitude of fraud in the health care arena is “staggering.”)
The attorney general said combating white collar fraud, including health care fraud, is a priority for the Justice Department.
“We must be vigilant in our efforts to safeguard and strengthen the American economy,” Holder said in a prepared statement. “Our efforts to fight economic crime are a vital component of our broader strategy – a strategy that seeks to foster confidence in our financial system, integrity in our markets, and prosperity for the American people.”