Winston Paes: Indian American ‘sheriff’ of Wall Street who has not lost a case in 6 years

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Between Preet Bharara and Paes, white collar criminals have hard time in NYC.

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Winston Paes
Winston Paes

By Raif Karerat

WASHINGTON, DC: It’s not just Preet Bharara. There’s another prominent Indian American ‘sheriff’ of Wall Street: Winston Paes.

Now that Paes is head of the business and securities fraud section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District, he intends to honor the legacy left by his boss, Loretta Lynch, until she was sworn in as the U.S. attorney general.

“To me, that’s really the most important thing,” he told a Chicago Tribune reporter over pizza near his office in Brooklyn. “I want to make sure I don’t let her down.”

Since joining the United States Attorney’s Office in March 2008, Paes has prosecuted a wide variety of criminal matters, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, corporate healthcare fraud, money laundering, bank fraud, credit card fraud and tax evasion, according to the Brooklyn Business Law Association’s website.

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In March 2009, Paes was appointed to the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section, “which is widely regarded as one of the nation’s premier units for prosecuting white-collar crime.”

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Paes was an associate in the Litigation Department of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, New York. At Morgan Lewis, Paes worked on a number of complex securities and white-collar cases, “including a federal criminal investigation into the backdating of options, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigations into market-timing and cross-trading in mutual funds and the receipt of improper gifts and gratuities by traders at investment advisors, and FINRA’s investigation into short-selling of securities by broker-dealers,” wrote the BBLA.

Paes, 40, hasn’t lost a case in more than six years as a prosecutor, reported the Chicago Tribune. One of his most famous victories came when he helped convict former Aeropostale executive Christopher Finazzo, who is currently serving an eight year prison sentence for directing millions of dollars in supply orders to a friend in exchange for kickbacks.

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In 2009, he successfully prosecuted former Morgan Stanley broker Darin DeMizio, who was sentenced to 38 months for his part in a stock-loan racket that garnered $1.7 million in kickbacks for his family,

Paes “took a really fact-intensive case in a rather obscure and arcane area of Wall Street” and “was able to strip it down to its core in a really compelling 10-minute opening statement,” Kelly Currie, now the acting U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, told The Tribune. She had worked the case with Paes.

Originally from Goa, India, Paes moved to the United States with his mother and two younger brothers after his father died at 45 from a heart attack. He was 18.

It was challenging “being the oldest and having to guide my little brothers through a new life, a new country,” he told the Chicago paper. His mother worked at Tiffany’s, and he helped out by taking jobs at a McDonald’s and in retail stores.

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According to his LinkedIn profile, Paes graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 2003 and earned his undergrad degree from Stony Brook University in 1998. The Tribune further revealed he graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law.

“I look at a lot of [white collar criminals] as being for the most part good people who make mistakes. People get greedy,” he told the Tribune. “They’re all tragic stories in their own right.” But “I don’t cut them a break either. I’m doing my job and holding them accountable for the bad choices that they made.”