District Attorneys Welcome Empowerment Under Proposed NY Laws

Apr 12, 2013

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe
Credit Rockland County District Attorney's Office

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week announced legislation that would better enable prosecutors crack down on public corruption. The proposal comes following two federal political corruption cases last week involving elected officials in New York.

Governor Cuomo’s proposed Public Trust Act aims to define a new class of public corruption crimes, require public officials to report bribery, and create tougher penalties for offenders, among other laws. Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright says Cuomo’s proposed legislation would more closely align New York’s laws with federal statutes.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe says the proposal contains several good laws for prosecutors.

Bribery charges were filed against state Senator Malcolm Smith, a New York City Councilman, and two county GOP officials in connection with an alleged plot to rig the New York City mayoral race. Also last week, in connection, the mayor and deputy mayor of the Rockland County Village of Spring Valley were charged in an alleged real-estate development scheme.

Because, he says, the Rockland Case was strictly a mortgage fraud case, and outside the jurisdiction of the county.

Ulster County District Attorney Carnright calls the proposed changes positive, with useful tool for prosecutors. Rockland’s Zugibe explains a change regarding granting immunity.

He says another major change concerns bringing forth bribery charges.

He says the proposed legislation would put New York on the same footing as federal prosecutors in this regard.

Ulster County’s Carnright says he would like to see a bit more in the Public Trust Act, including stripping the pension benefits of an elected official convicted of corruption.

And Rockland’s Zugibe wants to see something else.

District Attorney Carnright stresses that while Cuomo announced the Public Trust Act, the actual legislation is still being drafted, and his comments are based on the outline of what’s to come.