NEW YORK (AP) — The Manhattan U.S. attorney says continuing budget cuts and hiring freezes in the justice system may force his office to make difficult decisions about which cases to pursue.

The New York Times says Preet Bharara made the remarks at a public hearing Monday organized by a lawyers group.

In a follow-up phone interview, he told the newspaper that picking one case over another as resources dwindle is "a bit horrifying."

His office has 210 assistant prosecutors assigned to criminal and civil cases — about 20 fewer than in 2011. The Times says it also loses about 22 a year through attrition and they are not replaced.

Bharara said at the hearing there was overwhelming evidence money spent on his office would generate far more than it would cost.