A Sikh Nominated by Governor to be a Prosecutor in the State of New Jersey, USA

Governor Christie announced Thursday that he will nominate Gurbir Singh Grewal, an assistant U.S. attorney from Glen Rock, to succeed John Molinelli as the Bergen County prosecutor.

Gurbir Singh Grewal

If approved by the state Senate, Grewal would be the first Sikh to serve as a county prosecutor in New Jersey, according to leaders in the state’s Sikh community.

His nomination ends several months of speculation over whom Christie would tap for the post, which Molinelli, a Democrat, has held since being nominated by Gov. James E. McGreevey in 2002. He was reappointed by Gov. Jon Corzine and has continued to serve as a holdover since his term expired in January.

Molinelli, who said he learned of the move by Christie when contacted by a reporter, declined to comment. Christie had said in January that when he makes a decision about the post, “our first call will be to John.”

“I want to thank John Molinelli for his many years of service to the people of Bergen County,” Christie said in a news release. “We look forward to a swift confirmation for his successor.”

Members of the Sikh temple in Glen Rock where Grewal and his family worship said they were happy with the news that someone from their community could be the next leader of the county Prosecutor’s Office.

“It’s excellent news for the community, because I think he is one of what we call the new generation, born here, raised here and someone who went to school here and is a full-fledged Sikh,” said Karmjit Singh Sidhu, president of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh temple on Prospect Street.

“It also brings a lot of hope and encouragement for our next generation … especially in law and order, which we don’t have a lot of presence, and it will be a big boost in our community and for our children down the road.”

Sidhu said Grewal’s father was among the founders of the temple, and that Grewal has been going to the house of worship since he was a child. He said that more recently Grewal has been known to volunteer at the temple, including helping serve meals at the gurdwara’s community kitchen on Fridays and after service on Sunday.

“We see him quite often,” said Amrik Singh Sikand, past president of the temple. “He and his wife are very involved and his children and mother, too.”

Sikand, who said he has known Grewal since he was a teenager, described him as “very dedicated,” “hardworking,” a person who has a lot of integrity and is well-liked.

“His passion is public safety, and that’s why he is prosecuting people that have done wrong things,” Sikand said.

Grewal is less well-known to at least three of the Bergen County state senators whose approval will be needed under the unwritten rule known as senatorial courtesy.

State Sens. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest; Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck; and Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, said they were unfamiliar with the nominee, although Sarlo said he has met some of Grewal’s family.

“I look forward to meeting with him,” Sarlo said. “John Molinelli has served with honor and distinction … I will do my due diligence as a senator.”

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole, R-Cedar Grove, whose district also includes part of Bergen County, said he knows Grewal and believes he’ll be an outstanding nominee.

“I think when the Senate Judicial Committee reviews his credentials, I think they’ll find he’s as well-credentialed a prosecutor as you’re ever going to meet,” said O’Toole, who serves on the Judiciary Committee along with Weinberg, Sarlo and Cardinale.

Grewal has worked since 2010 in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, where he is the deputy chief of the economic crimes unit and computer hacking and IP crimes unit.

Recent cases he has prosecuted include a former Morgan Stanley Smith Barney financial adviser who pleaded guilty in February 2012 to wire fraud in a case involving charges of money stolen from clients’ accounts.

Grewal also helped prosecute a former employee of a New Jersey defense contractor found guilty in September 2012 of exporting sensitive military-related technology to China. He previously worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn as an assistant U.S. attorney in the business and securities fraud unit.

Grewal is a graduate of Georgetown University and obtained his law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at The College of William & Mary. He is past president of the South Asian Bar Association of New York and is a member of the New Jersey Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association.

Email: ensslin@northjersey.com and alvarado@northjersey.com

Originally Published By: North Jersey

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