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Successor to Hochul depends on who is elected president

WASHINGTON – The name of Buffalo’s next top federal prosecutor depends entirely on who is elected president.

Presidents appoint the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys to four-year terms, and the Senate then must confirm those appointments. And, of course, a Democratic President Hillary Clinton would pick very different lawyers for those posts than would a Republican President Donald Trump.

In other words, it will be many months before a permanent successor is in place for William J. Hochul Jr., who announced Wednesday that he will retire Oct. 28. In the meantime, Hochul’s top assistant, James P. Kennedy Jr., is expected to run the office on an interim basis.

There won’t be any shortage of interest in the permanent job, a high-profile post that involves prosecuting drug lords, gang members, corrupt political figures and other assorted defendants – and that can be a steppingstone into politics or a high-paying post with a private law firm:

Political sources who asked not to be named offered a variety of candidates for the job, but stressed that it’s far too early to handicap who might be nominated.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the state’s senior senator, is expected to interview candidates and make a recommendation if Clinton wins the presidency.

Here are some of the prospective Democratic candidates, in alphabetical order:

• Russell T. Ippolito, currently an assistant U.S. attorney in Buffalo.

• Richard D. Kaufman, chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo.

• Mark A. Montour, a Lancaster town justice and longtime local attorney.

• Margaret A. Murphy, an attorney in private practice and a former Buffalo City Court judge.

• Trini E. Ross, who supervises the Fraud and Corruption Section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo.

• Michael A. Siragusa, who, as Erie County attorney, is the county government’s top lawyer.

• Peter A. Weinmann, a longtime lawyer and former assistant district attorney in Erie County and former assistant U.S. attorney.

Things are less clear on the Republican side, given that New York doesn’t have a Republican senator who could give advice to Trump. But local Republican sources said the following GOP attorneys could be in the mix:

• Kenneth F. Case, an Erie County Court judge.

• Jeremy A. Colby, a Lancaster town justice and an attorney with Webster Szanyi in Buffalo.

• Joseph M. Hanna, a partner in the Buffalo office of the Goldberg Segalla law firm.

• John G. Schmidt Jr., co-leader of the Business Litigation Practice Team at Phillips Lytle in Buffalo.

• Paul B. Wojtaszek, a State Supreme Court justice.

email: jzremski@buffnews.com

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