Thursday, January 14, 2021

Former State Senator Sanctioned

A one-year and until further order suspension has been ordered by the New York  Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department

With respect to the facts underlying respondent’s conviction, from January 2015 through December 2016, respondent served as a New York State Senator representing Senate District 60. Respondent admits that, in January 2016, he traveled to New York City with a staff member of his Senate office to engage in fundraising activities for his 2016 reelection campaign. Respondent admits that, when they returned to their hotel after attending the fundraising event and engaging in related social activities, respondent visited the staff member’s hotel room to address matters related to the fundraising event, whereupon respondent made unwanted verbal and physical sexual advances toward the staff member. Respondent admits that the staff member asked him to leave her hotel room, which he did. In February 2016, the staff member submitted to respondent a letter of resignation from her position in respondent’s Senate office, citing, inter alia, respondent’s conduct following the fundraising event. Respondent immediately reported the former staff member’s allegations to the Senate Personnel Office, and the matter was eventually referred to the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) for further investigation.

Respondent admits that, after he became aware of the JCOPE investigation, he was concerned that it would negatively affect his 2016 reelection campaign. Respondent admits that he subsequently arranged for an employee of his Senate office to offer the former staff member a financial payment or new employment in exchange for her agreement to refuse to participate in the JCOPE investigation. Respondent admits that, at his direction, the employee of his Senate office met the former staff member in March 2016, at which time the former staff member recorded the conversation. Approximately one week later, respondent publicly announced that he would not seek reelection to the Senate. The FBI commenced an investigation into respondent’s conduct and, in June 2018, respondent executed a plea agreement and entered a plea of guilty in District Court to the above-referenced federal misdemeanor. In December 2018, respondent was sentenced in District Court to incarceration for a period of two months, supervised release for a period of one year, and payment of a fine in the amount of $9,500. Respondent thereafter entered into a settlement with JCOPE wherein he acknowledged that the conduct set forth in his federal plea agreement violated certain provisions of the Public Officers Law,  and he agreed to pay a civil fine in the amount of $10,000.

He played NFL football with the Buffalo Bills. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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