NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A public corruption probe has snared former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Joseph Hynes, and sources said his record as a prosecutor might not help him.
AS CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, back in April 2011, Hynes said, “This may very well be the beginning of a much wider inquiry.” At that point, he was talking about a day care scam, but now, the words could very well apply to himself.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and the Conflicts of Interest Board are among the agencies looking to findings by the city Department of Investigation. The findings implicate Hynes in a scheme to use money seized from drug dealers and other defendants to pay a political consultant.
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.
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.
Last spring as he campaigned for reelection, Hynes said, “My record – we’ve established more progressive programs and help people in trouble than any DA in the country.”
But sources said that record might not do him any good. Also unlikely to be helped by his record is Judge Barry Kamins, a highly respected administrative judge in the city’s criminal courts.
The DOI 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. Kamins was allegedly among them, and 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.
In one exchange, Hynes allegedly asked Kamins for advice on how to attack opponent Kenneth Thompson, who eventually ousted Hynes from office.
Lack of experience in supervising a large number of attorneys,” Kamins emailed. “Until he puts forth a plan or set of goals, one must assume that he is not qualified to run the office.”
The team at the DOI reviewed more than 6,000 emails that Hynes sent on his official account in the 18 months before the election – many of them discussing politics.
One email went to former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo – the father of Gov. Andrew Cuomo – showing how dismissive Hynes was of Thompson.
“Thank you governor for your most generous support for my campaign,” Hynes wrote to the elder Cuomo. “I look forward to our lunch sometime in September after I beat this turkey.”
Political consultants said Hynes, who is known by his middle name as “Joe,” is in a world of trouble.
“Joe Hynes’ legacy is certainly demolished, and is he in a lot of trouble? Prosecutors are going to be looking at this for some time,” said political consultant Hank Scheinkopf. “Rest assured that if there’s a violation of penal law, he’ll be prosecuted.”
Sources close to Hynes said he is the victim of a political vendetta.
He faces possible conflicts of interest and larceny charges.
Judge Kamins’ defended his integrity, but the judge has already been relieved of his court duties.
The Commission on Judicial Conduct was investigating his actions following the DOI report.
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.
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