Shelburne’s Nikolas “Kolo” Kerest is now responsible for the US Attorney’s Office in Vermont.
He was sworn in to Chief Federal Justice Geoffrey Crawford on Friday afternoon.
Kerest could not be reached on Friday for comment. In a statement released Friday evening, he praised the past work of those in the office he will now oversee.
âWe will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement and community partners to achieve equal justice before the law and to protect and serve the people of Vermont,â he said.
The US Senate confirmed Kerest’s appointment this week with a voice vote, making him Vermont’s top federal prosecutor. He had been assistant to the US attorney in the Vermont office.
He was appointed by President Joe Biden for the post in September, following a recommendation by US Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
“Kolo is an exemplary prosecutor, determined to uphold the rule of law and put the interests of Vermonters first,” Leahy said in a statement after Kerest’s confirmation. âAs a former prosecutor myself, I have no doubts that Kolo has exactly what it takes to keep our communities safe while upholding Vermont values. “
Kerest replaces Christina Nolan, who resigned in February as the presidential administration changed from Donald Trump, a Republican, to Biden, a Democrat.
Another Assistant U.S. Attorney, Jonathan Ophardt, served as Acting U.S. Attorney for Vermont. In an email Friday, Ophardt said he would resume his role as first assistant to the US prosecutor.
Kerest will oversee an office that has 24 lawyers and 27 non-lawyer support staff. The office has a budget of approximately $ 8 million. The salary for the American lawyer position is $ 172,500.
Kerest, 48, received a bachelor’s degree from Williams College in 1994 and his law degree from Cornell Law School in 2000.
He has worked in the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office in Vermont since 2019. Prior to that, he was Chief of the Civil Division of the Office and the Office’s Civil Rights Coordinator.
Prior to his work as a prosecutor, Kerest practiced in private practice, including law firms in Maine and Boston.
The confirmation process did not require Kerest to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved his confirmation with two dissenting votes – Senators Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Josh Hawley of Missouri, both Republicans.
Kerest completed a 24-page committee questionnaire on his education, work experience and case work.
In addition to his legal work, Kerest served as a director and sailing instructor at the Block Island Club in Rhode Island during the summers of 1994 and 1995, and was the nautical news editor for the Sailing News in Boston from June 1996. to August 1997.
Kerest has been a member of the bars of Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and the United States.
When asked to describe the 10 “most important contentious cases” in which he was involved, Kerest cited a case that resulted in a settlement of $ 155 million with an electronic medical records company. This company allegedly distorted what its software could do and paid bribes to some of its customers who promoted its use.
Among the many issues Kerest will have to deal with as an American lawyer from Vermont, there are sentencing recommendations in criminal cases against Bill Stenger, the former CEO and chairman of Jay Peak; Ariel Quiros, the former owner of the resort; and William Kelly, a key advisor to Quiros.
They were all indicted in May 2019 in connection with a failed project to build a biomedical research center in Newport that never got off the ground, despite raising more than $ 80 million from foreign investors via the federal EB-5 visa program.
All three have entered into plea deals with prosecutors and are awaiting sentencing. Quiros faces up to eight years in prison, Stenger five years and Kelly three years. Prosecutors can recommend a sentence up to these maximums, while their lawyers can advocate for lower sentences.
His office will also oversee the prosecution of several defendants in the murder of Michael Pimental in Waterford in October 2018. Federal prosecutors initially considered pursuing the death penalty in this case, but have since dropped it.
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