Cunha’s nomination confirmed by voice vote this evening

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse this evening announced that the full Senate has approved by voice vote the nomination of current Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha to be the next U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island.  Mr. Cunha currently serves as chief of the civil division for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Rhode Island.

“We are pleased that the full U.S. Senate has confirmed Zachary Cunha to be Rhode Island’s U.S. Attorney,” said Senators Reed and Whitehouse in a joint statement.  “Mr. Cunha already has an exemplary record of service in the U.S. Attorney’s office.  He steps into this new, elevated role ready to serve and protect the people of Rhode Island with integrity and distinction.” 

The confirmation occurred after Senator Whitehouse and Judiciary Chairman Richard Durbin went to the Senate Floor to challenge a hold on Mr. Cunha’s nomination.  After a colloquy between the chairman and the objecting Senator, Mr. Cunha’s nomination moved by voice vote.  Senator Whitehouse expressed his appreciation to both for this resolution.   

President Biden recommended Mr. Cunha to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September on the advice of Senators Reed and Whitehouse.  The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination last month. 

The U.S. Attorney serves as the state’s top federal law enforcement official and is responsible for overseeing an office that prosecutes federal cases across Rhode Island. 

A federal prosecutor since 2005, Mr. Cunha joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island in 2014.  He earned a promotion to chief of the civil division in February 2018.  Prior to being appointed to his current post, Mr. Cunha served as the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Coordinator in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.  In that capacity, he was responsible for cases in which the United States, as plaintiff, seek to vindicate governmental interests, combat fraud, and recover funds under the Federal False Claims Act.

Mr. Cunha began his career with the Justice Department in the Eastern District of New York, where he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 2005 to 2008.  Before joining the Department, Mr. Cunha worked as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, representing the City and its officers in federal litigation.  Mr. Cunha also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Massachusetts for five years, commuting to Boston from his home in Rhode Island.  Mr. Cunha and his family are long-time Rhode Island residents.

In 2010, Mr. Cunha received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the highest honor conferred by the U.S. Department of Justice, for his work as part of the prosecution team that achieved a $2.3 billion dollar civil and criminal resolution of charges against Pfizer, Inc. for illegal marketing conduct.  At the time, this case represented the largest civil recovery and fine ever collected by the Department of Justice in a health care fraud case.

Mr. Cunha earned a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from Brown University in 1998, and a Juris Doctorate, also with honors, from the George Washington University Law School in 2001.