A Manhattan-based federal prosecutor responsible for spearheading the Silk Road investigation is now joining Latham & Watkins law firm. He was active in the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht amongst other prominent cybercrime cases. Serrin Turner was a former assistant U.S. attorney in the
U.S. Attorney’s Office with lots of influence in determining court proceedings such as that of the Silk Road. He also participated in Liberty Reserve case which involved unauthorized transactions of digital currency. Turner will now be a partner in his new workplace, with offices in New York City.
Emerging cybersecurity issues have driven up demand for lawyers who know the industry well; this played a role in getting Serrin a place at Latham which is one of the most prestigious law firms in America today.
Turner’s hiring comes amidst a slew of sustained cyberattacks against private firms and even government itself. Chair of Latham’s litigation & trial department, Miles Ruthberg, said that cybercrime is particularly more rampant and there’s in fact a shortfall of lawyers to serve it now. Despite the shortage of attorneys, Ruthberg still says that it’s not a surprise given everything they know about what’s happening. Having participated in taking down the Silk Road mastermind, Serrin would make a great addition to this noble company.
The former Manhattan state prosecutor will join Latham & Watkins in late March, particularly focusing on data-protection and cybersecurity issues. He had previously been working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal investigations, which is where the Silk Road case was first brought up for trial. Turner was with this division since 2010 acting as a cybercrime coordinator.
In his most acclaimed case ever, he served as lead prosecutor for the Silk Road case, an underground dark web site that facilitated drug sales worth over $200 million through bitcoin digital currency. Ross Ulbricht, who prosecutors said operated Silk Road under the moniker “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was arrested in 2013 after authorities seized the site. A federal court found him guilty of charges including conspiracy to traffic narcotics; he was given life sentence in May 2015, though an appeal against this ruling has already been made by his defense team.
In a recent interview, Turner stated the Silk Road investigation showed that even in high profile cases such as this one, where the site was actively designed to be unreachable for law enforcement agencies, authorities could still narrow down on culprits and bring them to book. The main challenge with combating cybercrime is ensuring similar actions cannot be repeated online without culprits facing certain repercussions.
Turner also oversaw prosecution of Liberty Reserve, which laundered well over $6 billion for offenders involved in Ponzi schemes, child pornography, hacking and drug trafficking. He worked with other prosecutors to secure guilty pleas from 5 suspects, including co-founder Arthur Budovsky who admitted the charges in January on his trial eve.
Latham & Watkins clients have been raising concerns on the need for improving web security; this is after several hacking attempts were made on private companies and state departments in the past with considerable success. Most of them don’t want to end up this way, where confidential material falls into the hands of unscrupulous people often with bad intent.