Did Charles Hynes Use $200K in Seized Funds for Failed Brooklyn Reelection Push?
An investigation into former six-term Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes found his office spent more than $200,000 in seized criminal funds on consultant services for his failed reelection campaign last year, a report said on Monday.
A 27-page report by the New York City Department of Investigations reviewed by Reuters said Hynes is potentially guilty of larceny for misusing the public funds, which can only be used for law enforcement purposes. Larceny of more than $1,000 is a felony.
It also found that 95 percent of the more than 6,000 emails sent and received by Hynes’ official district attorney email account in the 18 months leading up to the November 2013 election were related to his campaign, potentially violating the New York City Charter and ethics code.
Hynes could not be immediately reached for comment.
The ex-prosecutor was a lightning rod for criticism over his handling of sex abuse allegations in the ultra-Orthodox community. Many Hasidic leaders accused him of heavy-handed tactics, but some also slammed his Kol Tzedek program for keeping secret the names of abusers, even after convictions.
The department launched the probe in November following requests by two separate government agencies, which were not named in the report.
The report also implicates Judge Barry Kamins, a veteran of the bench who last year was appointed as the Chief of Policy and Planning for New York State’s court system and oversaw the New York City criminal courts.
The report said that Kamins was among Hynes’ top political advisers and used his prestige and personal networks to further Hynes’ political goals. It added that Kamins also provided legal advice in cases that the attorney’s office was prosecuting.
“Charles Hynes and Barry have been good friends for 40 years and have discussed politics for much of that period. Anybody who knows Judge Kamins knows that he would not abuse his judicial position,” said Paul Shechtman, Kamins’ attorney.
The code of conduct bars judges from engaging in political campaigns except for their own, or from giving advice to either side of a court case without letting the other party know.
A court spokesman said on Monday that Kamins had been relieved of his duties, both as chief of policy for the state courts and in his oversight role of the city’s criminal courts.