Preet Bharara is adding a “tornado” to his team, a lawyer whose nickname stems from her experience in the courtroom.
Mr. Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, is expected to select Lisa Zornberg as the new head of his criminal division, according to two people briefed on the plans. Ms. Zornberg, currently a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, previously spent more than a decade in the United States attorney’s office, where her effective handling of a mob-related case led The Village Voice to call her “a tiny tornado of a prosecutor.”
In returning to the office, Ms. Zornberg will take over for Daniel L. Stein, a longtime federal prosecutor who announced on Monday that he was stepping down to join the law firm Mayer Brown. Mr. Stein, who became chief of the criminal division last year, will lead Mayer Brown’s global regulatory and investigations group and act as a co-leader of the white-collar defense group. He will join the firm next month.
“I’m pleased to join Mayer Brown’s extensive team of best-in-class litigators, who have an exceedingly strong reputation for handling sophisticated, high-stakes disputes,” Mr. Stein said in a statement.
Mr. Stein is the latest senior official to depart Mr. Bharara’s office. Sara L. Shudofsky, who was his civil division chief, left for Arnold & Porter earlier this year and Arlo Devlin-Brown, the former head of the office’s public corruption unit, recently joined Covington & Burling. Last year, Richard B. Zabel, one of Mr. Bharara’s longtime lieutenants, became general counsel at Elliott Management, one of Wall Street’s biggest hedge funds.
And yet Mr. Bharara, having served more than seven years in his post, is showing no signs of leaving.
A spokesman for Mr. Bharara declined to comment on the personnel changes, as did Ms. Zornberg.
The role of criminal chief carries a great deal of cachet in Manhattan — and in the broader legal world. The criminal division acts as a crucial artery running through the United States attorney’s office, encompassing the prosecution of terrorism, cybercrime, Wall Street fraud and public corruption.
Mr. Stein, who specialized in public corruption cases, had done an earlier stint as a prosecutor in the United States attorney’s office and returned in 2014 as counsel to Mr. Bharara. A year later, he was named chief of the criminal division, succeeding Joon H. Kim, who became Mr. Bharara’s deputy.
Among the prominent cases Mr. Stein oversaw as head of the criminal division were the public corruption trials of two once powerful former New York politicians — Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, who had been the longtime State Assembly speaker, and Dean G. Skelos, a Republican and former State Senate majority leader. Both men were convicted last year and have appealed.
More recently, Mr. Stein oversaw the investigation that resulted in corruption charges announced last month against two former close aides to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, a senior state official and six other people.
Ms. Zornberg, a partner at the firm Lankler Siffert & Wohl, served in the United States attorney’s office from 1998 to 2012, working in both the civil and criminal divisions. She rose to become chief of the complex frauds unit in the criminal division.
One of her more prominent cases was the prosecution of Charles J. Antonucci Sr., the former chief executive of the Park Avenue Bank. He was the first defendant convicted of trying to defraud the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.