Bob Cleary is the immediate past co-chair of Proskauer’s Litigation Department, a former member of the Firm’s Executive Committee and co-chair of the White Collar Defense & Investigations Group. He joined the Firm in June 2002 after a lengthy career as a federal prosecutor, including service as the U.S. Attorney both in New Jersey and in Southern Illinois.
He has repeatedly been recognized in various publications as a leading practitioner, including The Legal 500 United States, in which clients describe him as “cool, calm and collected” and a “master strategist.” The American College of Trial Lawyers recognized his trial expertise by inducting him as a Fellow in 2014.
Bob concentrates on white collar criminal defense, SEC and related enforcement matters, securities litigation, complex civil litigation, tax controversies and internal investigations. He has extensive experience in international criminal matters, including money laundering investigations and foreign extradition proceedings.
He has been retained in many high-profile corporate scandals of the past several years including, among others:
The multi-billion dollar Petrobras scandal in Brazil, one of the two largest corruption investigations in the world
The 1MDB international money laundering investigation
A sweeping, multi-year federal criminal investigation into a multi-billion dollar investment portfolio for a leading global financial institution
Numerous civil lawsuits and government investigations relating to the demise of Lehman Brothers
Bob has 30 years of courtroom experience as a trial lawyer and appellate advocate. He recently served as lead trial counsel in what is believed to be the longest criminal antitrust trial in New York State history, representing the alleged architect of the charged antitrust and fraud scheme. After an almost year-long trial, Bob achieved complete vindication for the client by securing acquittals and dismissals on 36 of 37 felony charges, and got the lone count of conviction dismissed post trial.
In his capacity as U.S. Attorney in the District of New Jersey and the Southern District of Illinois from 1999 to 2002, Bob was the chief federal law enforcement officer in those districts, responsible for all federal prosecutions and lawsuits filed against the federal government. Prior to his appointment as U.S. Attorney, he was the lead prosecutor in the Unabomber case, United States v. Theodore J. Kaczynski. Bob and his team of six prosecutors and over 100 federal agents successfully prosecuted Kaczynski for a string of bombings that Kaczynski perpetrated from 1978 until 1995. Kaczynski currently is serving a life sentence.
Bob began his prosecutorial career as a trial attorney for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. While with the Tax Division, he tried numerous tax fraud cases to verdict in various jurisdictions throughout the country.
From 1987 to 1994, Bob served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, ultimately becoming the Chief of the Major Crimes Unit. During his tenure in the Southern District, he successfully prosecuted through trial and appeal many complicated white collar criminal cases involving, among other things, tax fraud, securities fraud and bank fraud.
From 1994 until his appointment as the Unabomber prosecutor in 1996, Bob was the First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of New Jersey, responsible for running the day-to-day operations of that 120-lawyer federal prosecutor's office.
The White House and the Department of Justice have consulted with Bob on homeland security and USA Patriot Act Issues on numerous occasions since he left government service.