Celeste has over 25 years of experience in government enforcement, regulatory and civil litigation matters that span federal, state and local government. Prior to joining Clifford Chance in 2018, Celeste was General Counsel at the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS). She also previously served for 17 years in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), rising to Chief of the Criminal Division, and for eight years as Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel at the New York City Law Department.
While at DFS, handled a broad spectrum of regulatory and enforcement actions, including: disciplinary and enforcement proceedings, licensing matters, implementation of legislation and promulgation of regulations, including DFS's landmark transaction monitoring and cybersecurity regulations.
While at the New York City Law Department, oversaw several litigation and trial divisions and provided legal advice to City agencies responding to governmental investigations from a variety of federal, state and local prosecutors and investigative bodies. Represented the City in high-profile litigations involving the Police Department's stop-question-and-frisk policy and its policies and procedures for investigating political activity.
As Chief of the Criminal Division, supervised over 160 Assistant United States Attorneys and oversaw all criminal investigations and prosecutions. Also briefed and argued dozens of cases in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, both as a line assistant and as Chief Appellate Attorney for the Criminal Division. Tried thirteen cases to verdict as a line assistant, including securities fraud, extortion, bribery, organized crime, bank fraud, narcotics and money laundering cases.
Harvard University, A.B. 1986, magna cum laude in Government
Columbia University School of Law, J.D. 1989, Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
Admission & Qualifications
New York State Bar
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Southern District of New York
Eastern District of New York
Public Service Award, New York County Lawyers' Association (2013)
Stimson Medal, Association of the Bar of the City of New York (2007)
Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award (1999)
General Counsel, and Deputy Superintendent and Special Counsel, New York State Department of Financial Services (2016-2017)
Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel, New York City Law Department (2008-2016)
Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of New York (1991-2008) -- Supervisory Positions held: Chief, Criminal Division; Chief Appellate Attorney, Criminal Division; Deputy Chief Appellate Attorney, Criminal Division; Chief, General Crimes
Law Clerk, Honorable Kenneth Conboy, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York (1989-1991)