Published on: Saturday, February 27, 2021

Newly disclosed documents from inside the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan capture a sense of panic and dread among prosecutors and their supervisors as one of their cases collapsed last year amid allegations of government misconduct. Previous coverage available here.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York wrote each other in March 2020 that "yeah, we lied" in a letter to Judge Alison Nathan about a key document it had failed to share with defense lawyers. The office later retreated from that characterization, arguing instead the trouble resulted from a rush to file papers under a tight deadline.

In another newly revealed exchange, one supervisor in the terrorism and international narcotics section emailed his co-chief after the problems began to surface that the trial team had done some "pretty aggressive stuff here over the last few days." "This is going to be a bloodbath," the other supervisor replied.

Earlier, a junior lawyer on the case,  Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lake, suggested they "wait until tomorrow and bury it" in a stack of other papers they provided the defendant, apparently in hopes the critical document would be overlooked during the rush of the trial. The trick didn't work. Sadr’s attorneys identified the document as new within an hour. The judge asked the prosecutors to explain themselves.

The release of the records followed a ruling last week in which U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan urged the Justice Department to open an internal probe into possible misconduct by prosecutors in the terrorism and international narcotics unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

With the exception of one supervisor,  Shawn Crowley, who has left the government for private law practice at Kaplan, Hecker & Fink in New York, the other prosecutors remain in the U.S. attorney's office.