News

Former Brooklyn DA Hynes Accused In Report Of Misusing Funds For Campaign

Charles Hynes (brooklynda.org/)

Charles Hynes (brooklynda.org/)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A probe by the New York City Department of Investigation has concluded that former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles misused assets seized from criminal defendants to pay a consultant who working on his unsuccessful campaign for reelection.

The report issued Monday said Hynes’ office issued an average of two to three checks per month to Matz, Blancato & Associates from a subaccount called “asset forfeiture,” in what were purported to be office consulting services.

READ THE REPORT

But the DOI said the evidence showed consultant Mortimer Matz did not really provide any public relations or communications services for the District Attorney’s office but rather worked “primarily if not exclusively as a political consultant to Hynes personally” and had a major role in his reelection campaign.

The funds sent out from criminals’ forfeited assets amounted to $219,924 in 2012 and 2013, and about $1.1 million during Matz’s firm’s entire 2003 to 2013 term working with the DA’s office, the report concluded.

The report also said Hynes used District Attorney’s office staff and e-mail resources for political campaign purposes, and enlisted the aid of high-ranking DA’s office personnel to help with his campaign.

Among those who allegedly helped with the effort was Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Barry Kamins, who sent at least 300 e-mails to Hynes through his official judicial e-mail account, the report said.

The e-mails provide evidence not only that Kamins engaged in political activity while a sitting judge by advising Hynes about his campaign, but that he also talked with Hynes actively about matters being prosecuted by the DA for which the judge should have been impartial, and consulted Hynes for legal advice, the report said.

The report also said several other staff members sent e-mails about political activity related to Hynes’ reelection campaign, using their office e-mail accounts on company time. The report specifically implicated five staffers – Jerry Schmetterer, Dino Amoroso, Amy Feinstein, Anne Swern, and Henna White.

At the time, Swern was serving as Brooklyn First Assistant District Attorney, and White was the liaison to the Jewish community for the office, the report said.

The actions violate the City Charger Conflict of Interest Board rules, the report said.

The report further indicated that Hynes’ actions may have violated criminal laws against official misconduct, as well as larceny based on the seized assets that were used to pay the consultant.

The report also said the DOI’s findings show that Judge Kamins violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, which forbids sitting judges from engaging in political activity beyond voting and certain authorized activities.

A New York Times report said Judge Kamins has been relieved of his administrative duties, as chief of policy in planning and in an oversight role for the city’s criminal courts.

The DOI will forward the findings to the appropriate civil and criminal authorities, the report said.

Hynes was defeated for reelection by current Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson last fall.

Thompson handily beat Hynes in the Democratic primary, but Hynes stayed in the race – running on the Republican and Conservative party lines and losing again to Thompson in the general election.

The Brooklyn DA’s office handles more than 80,000 cases per year.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories