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Reed, Whitehouse pick Zachary Cunha to be next US Attorney for RI

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced Tuesday they have chosen Zachary Cunha as their pick to be the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island.

Cunha is currently the chief of the civil division for the U.S. Attorney’s office and has been a federal prosecutor since 2005.

“Zachary Cunha is an experienced prosecutor with an exemplary record of service in the U.S. Attorney’s office,” Reed and Whitehouse, both Democrats, said in a joint statement. “He has a record of holding the powerful accountable and recognizing the power and responsibility of the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

Cunha is a 1998 graduate of Brown University, where he earned a B.A. He then received his J.D. from George Washington University.

His career began as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York from 2005 to 2008. He then served five years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston before coming to Rhode Island, where he was promoted to civil chief in February 2018.

Cunha was part of a prosecution team that won a $2.3 billion civil and criminal judgment against Pfizer for illegal marketing conduct. The U.S. Justice Department awarded him the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service for his role in that case.

President Joe Biden ultimately nominates a candidate for the office of U.S. attorney, and then his pick has to be confirmed by the full U.S. Senate to a four-year term. But historically home-state senators have had a significant say in the White House’s choices.

If confirmed, Cunha would replace Aaron Weisman, who stepped down earlier this year after Biden was sworn in and had himself succeeded Peter Neronha.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Myrus is currently serving as acting U.S. attorney for Rhode Island.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook

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