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Wyshak to head the US attorney’s public corruption unit

Fred M. Wyshak Jr. left the federal courthouse on the South Boston Waterfront Aug. 2.
Fred M. Wyshak Jr. left the federal courthouse on the South Boston Waterfront Aug. 2. Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Assistant US Attorney Fred M. Wyshak Jr., a prosecutor who has been at the helm of some of the higher-profile criminal cases in federal court in recent years, was tapped Monday to head his office’s public corruption and special investigations unit.

Wyshak replaces Brian T. Kelly, his partner in the prosecution of James “Whitey” Bulger, who recently left the office for a position at the law firm of Nixon Peabody.

“Fred has an extraordinary record as a trial lawyer and a profound commitment to public service,” US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement. “While he is well known for his efforts to prosecute James Bulger, Fred’s prosecutorial resume extends far beyond that. He has served this office with distinction for 25 years, and I know his experience and legal acumen will serve him well in this position.”

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Some of Wyshak’s recent cases include the prosecution of former probation commissioner John O’Brien and two top deputies, who are set to go to trial next month on racketeering charges. He also led the prosecution team in the conviction of Daniel Eremian, the brother-in-law of US Representative John Tierney, for running an illegal gambling operation.

Wyshak, 61, said in a statement that he was honored to take on the new role.

“I intend to build upon the strong foundation and hard work of each of my predecessors and the dedicated prosecutors in the public corruption unit,” he said. “These cases are crucial to ensure that the public maintains faith in government, the law is upheld, and taxpayer money is spent correctly. I look forward to continuing to prosecute these very important cases.”

The public corruption and special prosecutions unit focuses on offenses by public officials at the local, state, and federal levels, from police corruption to political bribery. Wyshak also investigated corruption in the Big Dig construction project.

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Wyshak is a graduate of New York University and St. John’s School of Law. He began his career in 1978 as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, eventually becoming deputy chief of the district’s economic crime and arson bureau.

He later prosecuted organized crime cases in the US attorney’s office in New Jersey, including one case involving the acting boss of a prominent Mafia family. He began working in Boston in 1989 and joined the Organized Crime Strike Force, handling labor racketeering cases and other organized crime cases that eventually led to the indictment of Bulger.

Anthony Cardinale, a prominent Boston defense attorney who worked with both Kelly and Wyshak over the years, said that Wyshak proved himself as an aggressive but calm, organized prosecutor. “He’s a consummate pro,” Cardinale said. “He’s very smart, very calm, very assured. I think he’s a terrific attorney and a great member of the US attorney’s office, and they couldn’t have done any better.”


Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.