NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Long-serving District Attorney Richard Brown says he will be retiring sooner than he had hoped.
The 86-year-old has served as Queens’ prosecutor for 27 years.
Brown initially announced his retirement in January. At the time, he said he planned to finish out his current term.
“It had been my hope that I would be able to finish out this term in office. Unfortunately, that is not to be. Given the current state of my health and my ongoing health issues, it has become increasingly difficult to fully perform the powers and duties of my office in the manner in which I have done since 1991. Accordingly, I intend to resign as District Attorney effective June 1, 2019, the twenty-eighth anniversary of my first assuming this office,” he said in a statement Thursday. “In the interim, pursuant to the provisions of subdivisions 3 and 4 of section 702 of the County Law, section 9 of the Public Officers Law, and such other applicable provisions of law, I hereby designate my Chief Assistant, John M. Ryan to exercise the powers and duties of the office of District Attorney while I address my health issues. I will continue to work closely with my staff until my retirement to ensure an orderly transition for this office and for the residents of Queens County.”
“I thank the people of Queens for their much appreciated support over the years. It is has been my honor to serve you. I particularly want to express my appreciation to all those who have worked so professionally and diligently in this office as Assistant District Attorneys, Investigators and members of our support staff. Together we have built what I believe to be one of the finest prosecutor’s offices in the country,” the statement continued.
Brown touted the decrease in violent crime during his tenure and his initiatives, like the treatment of opioid addictions and prosecution of domestic violence cases.
But the Queens DA will also be remembered for the major cases he prosecuted.
In 1996, he won a conviction against the “Zodiac” killer, who murdered three people. And in 2001, he successfully prosecuted the two men who carried out the Wendy’s massacre in Flushing, where five people died.
“This was as horrendous a crime as one could possibly imagine,” Brown said at the time.
However, Brown failed to get a conviction against police officers in the 2006 Sean Bell shooting. And recently, he could only get a hung jury in the high-profile Karina Vetrano murder case. The accused killer, Chanel Lewis, will be retried in two weeks.
Before becoming district attorney, Brown served as a judge, and even presided over the arraignment for the notorious “Son of Sam” killer in 1977.
In recent years, Brown suffered from Parkinson’s disease, and three candidates had already declared they would run against him. Facing a possible tough re-election, Brown decided now would be the right time to retire.
Brown said one of his memorable moments happened when he was a criminal court judge in 1973. A defendant fired eight shots in the courtroom and Brown said he ducked behind the bench. After that, he said he became known as “Duck-Down Brown.”