Robert M. Morgenthau, the longtime Manhattan district attorney who set the “gold standard” for prosecutors and was the model prosecutor for the TV series “Law & Order,” has died at the age of 99.
Morgenthau took office in 1975 and ran the district attorney’s office for 35 years until the age of 90, making him New York City’s longest serving district attorney.
In that time, he navigated the New York City fiscal crisis of the 1970s, the crime boom of the ’80s and ’90s and the post 9/11 era in the 2000s, all the while racking up high-profile prosecutions of celebrities, mobsters, terrorists, money launderers and Wall Street fraudster.
Robert Morris Morgenthau was born in Manhattan on July 31, 1919, into a family originally of German-Jewish stock whose roots in America reached back to the 1860s.
His grandfather, the real estate tycoon Henry Morgenthau Sr., was President Wilson’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in World War I and a prominent voice against Armenian genocide. Robert’s father, Henry Jr., was Roosevelt’s treasury secretary from 1934 to 1945, and his mother, Elinor (Fatman) Morgenthau, was a niece of Herbert H. Lehman, the New York Democratic governor and United States senator.