Robert Morgenthau, a World War II Navy hero best known as Manhattan’s legendary district attorney, and who worked as a practicing lawyer and philanthropist through his final days, died Sunday.
He was 99.
Morgenthau died at Lenox Hill Hospital after a short illness, sources told The Post.
For four decades, Morgenthau’s patrician baritone — honed in his youth among his family friends, the Roosevelts and the Kennedys — rumbled through the halls of lower Manhattan courthouses.
In the 1960s as Manhattan US attorney, and then for 34 years until his retirement as DA at age 90, he was “The Boss” to loyal underlings and “Morgy” to tabloid headline writers.
And there were many headlines for the man who became the model for “Law and Order’s” original stern prosecutor, Adam Schiff.
By his own count, Morgenthau oversaw some 3.5 million cases as DA, guided by his often-repeated motto that justice be pursued “without fear or favor.”
His more kleig-lit prosecutions included those of mobster John Gotti (assault and conspiracy), rapper Tupac Shakur (sex assault), hip hop mogul Puffy Combs (gun possession), and actor Russell Crowe and supermodel Naomi Campbell, both of whom took no-jail deals in separate phone-flinging incidents.
His prosecution of Mark David Chapman, who pleaded guilty to killing John Lennon, was international news; that of subway vigilante Bernard Goetz sparked a national conversation on gun rights and self-defense.
Often his reach extended well beyond Manhattan.
Morgenthau’s sprawling investigation into the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International, or BCCI, in 1991 exposed a criminal enterprise spanning 76 countries that laundered loot for Saddam Hussein, the Medellin drug cartel, and a global roster of terrorists and warlords.
Robert Morgenthau was born in New York City in 1919.
His grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Sr., rose from poverty to become US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
His father, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., became Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Treasury secretary and a major architect of the New Deal.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the late John F. Kennedy, Jr., and governors Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer are among the more notable of the thousands of prosecutors he personally interviewed and hired.
He is survived by his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lucinda Franks and his five children, along with his grand- and great-grandchildren.