Ephraim Wernick

UPDATE: Wernick left the DOJ in June 2019 to become a partner at Vinson & Elkins.

Ephraim "Fry" Wernick is an assistant chief in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit of the Justice Department criminal division fraud section.

After high school in Dallas, Texas, he graduated from Brown University in 1999 and earned a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 2003.

At Brown University, he studied modern Middle Eastern history, which may have been helpful for a stint on the federal government's Guantanamo Bay litigation team. There, he ensured that several high-value detainees connected to al-Qaida and the Taliban remained detained at the naval base.

As the lead trial attorney for the US, Wernick successfully opposed a habeas petition from Khairullah Kharkhwa, a former Herat governor and high-ranking Taliban member, who sought his freedom from the US detention center in Guantanamo. President Barack Obama eventually traded Kharkhwa and four other Taliban members for the release of Sgt Bowe Bergdahl in June 2014. 

Wernick also served in 2008 as counsel for the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations, where he investigated illegal exports of dual-use technologies.

In private practice, he has worked as an attorney at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and at Strasburger & Price in Dallas. 

Before the Texan joined the FCPA unit in August 2014, Wernick was an assistant US attorney in the District of Columbia. He prosecuted violent crimes, including a double shooting inside a family's apartment, and white-collar matters, including an investment fraud scheme in which investors lost more than US$11 million.

Since joining the FCPA unit first as a trial attorney, Wernick successfully prosecuted in 2015 a Russian nuclear energy official who pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy involving violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

After spending time on detail with the Senate Judiciary Committee assisting the chair – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) – during the summer of 2017, Wernick returned to the FCPA unit to take up an assistant chief position in November that year.

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