CBS2 Exclusive: Former Putnam County DA Adam Levy Wins Defamation Suit Against Sheriff

CARMEL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Former Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy just won a bitter legal battle against longtime Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith, a fellow Republican.

“It took four years, but I couldn’t be happier,” he told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare in an exclusive interview. “You’ve got to have thick skin if you’re going to go into politics.”

Levy is the son of televisions’ no-nonsense “Judge Judy” Sheindlin, who campaigned with him when he won two terms as district attorney.

In 2013, Smith issued press releases accusing Levy of interfering with the investigation of Alexandru Hossu, Levy’s friend and personal trainer who was eventually cleared of child rape charges. But Tuesday, just as Levy’s defamation trial against the sheriff was getting underway at the Putman County Courthouse, Smith admitted that never happened.

“Mr. Smith had the opportunity to issue an apology and retraction four years ago, but for personal and political reasons he wouldn’t do it. Put me through a four-year hell,” Levy said.

As part of the $150,000 settlement, Smith had to post a letter of apology on the sheriff department’s website, saying “I retract these releases unequivocally and apologize for the statements contained therein… These statements were untrue and I should not have made them.”

Smith, who’s up for reelection this fall, refused to talk to CBS2 on camera about the settlement, but said he’s glad the matter has been resolved so he can focus on the important issues facing Putnam County.

Levy is now out of politics and has moved to Wyoming, but he says he had to stand up to what he calls political bullying.

“A bully is a bully no matter where you are, and a bully is going to keep pushing and keep beating on you until you finally stand up and say, ‘enough is enough.’ This lawsuit was my opportunity to tell Don Smith, ‘enough is enough,’” he told Conybeare.

He credits his famous mother for instilling that fighting spirit in him.

Scheindlin issued a statement about the settlement, saying her son “won his hard fought battle for his integrity, his honesty, his reputation, his honor. Most of all, he won his battle for the truth.”

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