Paul Jerome Curran (February 21, 1933 – September 4, 2008) was an American Republican politician who served in the New York State Assembly and fought corruption as a federal prosecutor and as the state's commissioner of investigation.

Early yearsEdit

Curran was born on February 21, 1933, in Manhattan, New York City, the son of Secretary of State of New York Thomas J. Curran (1898–1958). He attended Xavier High School. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1953, and from Fordham Law School in 1956. After serving as an officer in the United States Air Force, he spent three years prosecuting narcotics cases as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.[1]

Curran was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1963 to 1966, sitting in the 174th, 175th and 176th New York State Legislatures.[2] On December 23, 1966, he was appointed by Mayor John V. Lindsay to help in the passing of laws concerning New York City by the State Legislature.[3]

Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed Curran to the New York State Commission of Investigation in 1968, elevating him to chairman the following year. Under his leadership, and despite the body's lack of authority to prosecute crimes they had uncovered, the Commission exposed kickbacks and fraud in Buffalo and Albany.[1]

He was appointed by President Richard Nixon as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1973. He remained in office until 1975, obtaining convictions of Carmine Tramunti, the head of the Lucchese crime family, and Representative Bertram L. Podell. He obtained an indictment against nursing home operator Bernard Bergman, that later led to a guilty plea in a $1.2 million Medicaid fraud case. He was a consultant to the Pentagon on intelligence matters in 1976.[1]

Special counselEdit

In 1979, U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell appointed Curran as a special counsel to investigate loans made to the peanut business owned by President Jimmy Carter by a bank controlled by Bert Lance, a friend of the president and the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Unlike Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski who were named as special prosecutors to investigate the Watergate scandal, Curran's position as special counsel meant that he would not be able to file charges on his own, but would require the approval of Assistant Attorney General Philip Heymann.[4] As special counsel, he became the first lawyer to question a sitting president under oath as part of an investigation of that president.[1][5][6]

The investigation was concluded in October 1979, with Curran announcing that no evidence had been found to support allegations that funds loaned from the National Bank of Georgia had been diverted to Carter's 1976 presidential campaign.[7]

1982 New York gubernatorial primary runEdit

Curran entered the Republican primary race in 1982.[8] Curran lost in the primary to Lewis Lehrman by a 4-1 margin. The gubernatorial election that was ultimately won by Democrat Mario Cuomo.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Curran married Barbara Ann Frank in 1954, and they had seven children. He had been an attorney with the firm of Kaye Scholer, with various breaks, since 1961.[1][5] He lived in Manhattan and Spring Lake, New Jersey. He died on September 4, 2008. in Manhattan, of cancer.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f McFadden, Robert D. "Paul Curran, 75, Corruption Foe, Dies", The New York Times, September 6, 2008. Accessed September 6, 2008.
  2. ^ Knowles, Clayton. Worried City Democrats to Seek Advice of Victorious Country Cousins in The New York Times on November 22, 1963 (subscription required)
  3. ^ LINDSAY APPOINTS LEGISLATIVE AIDE in The New York Times on December 24, 1966 (subscription required)
  4. ^ Staff. "I Have a Job to Do", Time (magazine), April 2, 1979. Accessed September 7, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Special Counsel, Litigation, Kaye Scholer. Accessed September 6, 2008.
  6. ^ Precious, Tom. "Panel considers special investigator to probe smear effort", The Buffalo News, July 28, 2007. Accessed September 7, 2008. "Curran's biography on the Web site of Kaye Scholer, his Manhattan firm, notes that he interviewed Carter under oath in 1979, the first such grilling of a sitting president."
  7. ^ Pound, Edward T. "CARTER'S BUSINESS CLEARED IN INQUIRY ON CAMPAIGN FUNDS; INDICTMENTS ARE RULED OUT Investigator Finds No Evidence of Diversion of Warehouse Profit to '76 Presidential Race Insufficient Loan Collateral Loan Diversion Alleged Carter Business Cleared in Inquiry on Bank Loans and Campaign Funds Errors in the Records History of Loans Traced", The New York Times, October 17, 1979. Accessed September 7, 2008.
  8. ^ Carroll, Maurice. "EX-U.S. ATTORNEY CURRAN IN RACE FOR GOVERNOR AS REPUBLICAN", The New York Times, April 20, 1982. Accessed September 7, 2008.
  9. ^ Lynn, Frank. "CUOMO BEATS KOCH IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY; LEHRMAN, MOYNIHAN AND MRS. SULLIVAN WIN", The New York Times, September 24, 1982. Accessed September 7, 2008.
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Joseph J. Weiser
New York State Assembly
New York County, 6th District

Succeeded by
district abolished
Preceded by
new district
New York State Assembly
70th District

Succeeded by
Jose Ramos-Lopez