Abe George Seeks To Upend Hynes

Little-Known Prosecutor Hits Veteran DA on Orthodox Abuse

Giant Killer? Abe George hopes to unseat veteran Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes next year. He blasts the incumbent for his handling of sex abuse cases in the ultra-Orthodox community.
paul berger
Giant Killer? Abe George hopes to unseat veteran Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes next year. He blasts the incumbent for his handling of sex abuse cases in the ultra-Orthodox community.

By Paul Berger

Published July 25, 2012.
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After public school, college at New York University and a law degree from Hofstra, George got a job working in the Manhattan DA’s office. He has spent the majority of eight years working in the special narcotics unit, and is unknown to most Brooklyn voters.

By contrast, Hynes has been in office for more than two decades. He won election soon after his headline-grabbing role as special prosecutor in the racial attack of the Howard Beach section of Queens, in which four white youths were convicted of chasing a black man to his death on the Belt Parkway.

Even with name recognition, George, who is running as a Democrat, would have a steep hill to climb. The post of district attorney in New York City is often seen as a job for life. Hynes has held his position since 1989, one year less than Bronx DA Robert Johnson. Robert Morgenthau resigned as Manhattan DA in 2009, after 34 years in office.

“It is very difficult to beat an incumbent district attorney,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a prominent Democratic political consultant. “You need money, you need local support…[and] often it is very difficult to find support, because people are reluctant to go after an incumbent DA.”

Hynes won his post after his predecessor, Elizabeth Holtzman, resigned. His position has not always seemed impenetrable. In 2005, several candidates challenged him for the Democratic primary. Hynes edged out his closest challenger, John Sampson, getting 42% of the vote to Sampson’s 37%. During the last election, in 2009, Hynes ran unopposed.

In an email, George appeared unfazed by the battle ahead. “I have received some significant pledges from people within the Orthodox community, other parts of Brooklyn and of course the Indian community that I think it will be significant,” he said. “I am a career prosecutor, not a career politician.”

Despite George’s claims, Hynes prosecutorial record appears strong by some measures.

During the past five years, 87% of indictments in Brooklyn have resulted in convictions or guilty pleas, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. That’s the same as the Bronx DA’s office and only a few points off the Queens DA’s office, which had the most successes with a 92% strike rate during the same period.


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