For Schorr: law enforcement makes last pitch

One day before the election, Westchester District Attorney candidate Dan Schorr has called a news conference with, as he described it, “members of law enforcement” who are supporting him in his bid to topple incumbent DA Janet DiFiore.

This may be just a recap of his previous endorsements from county police and other PBA groups. (See earlier Completely Legal posts for the list). But I’ll update you after the event with the details.

Meanwhile, here in the newsroom, we are getting our election game plan together for tomorrow night. My esteemed colleagues will be covering the DA race; I will be tracking the 9th Judicial District judges’ race, which is spread out over 5 counties (thank goodness all 5 county boards of election will be posting the results online).

Good luck to all!

Maybe it’s an H1N1 concern

tjndc5-5rigbxw7i6c7porwjn1_layoutThis is from my Journal News colleague Gerald McKinstry, who witnessed this exchange in the parking lot of News12 in Yonkers:

Apparently after Tuesday night’s debate at News12, Republican Dan Schorr approached his opponent, Janet DiFiore, and offered to shake her hand. DiFiore, the incumbent district attorney, passed on that, as did her husband, who told Schorr, “Your 15 minutes are up.”

Schorr maintains that DiFiore had refused to shake his hand throughout the campaign.

Photo: DiFiore, left, and Schorr, right, at an earlier debate at Pace University.

For Schorr: Gang violence game plan

EDITED TO ADD response from District Attorney Janet DiFiore (below)

Westchester District Attorney candidate Dan Schorr announced his plan to tackle gang violence in the county, especially in Yonkers and Mount Vernon, where murders and gun violence are high.

If elected, he said, he would:
• Assign experienced prosecutors to high-crime jurisdictions for longer periods of time.
• Establish a Zero Tolerance Policy for gang-related and/or violent offenses involving handguns. If a criminal is convicted of a violent gun crime, (s)he would go to state prison, not the county jail. Repeat violent offenders would get consecutive, not concurrent sentences.
• Assign the same prosecutor or team of prosecutors from beginning to end, instead of changing at different stages of the case, so help them understand the complexities of a case and complicated nature of gangs.
• Hold off on giving plea deals until notifying the arresting officer(s).
• Send prosecutors and criminal investigators into local schools to teach a comprehensive anti-gang program to increase gang awareness and point out the legal punishments for gang offenses.
• Combat the “anti-snitch” attitude on the street, in part by reinvigorating the Crimestoppers program and developing a stronger witness protection program.
• Work with the corrections and probation officers to identify and monitor known gang members, as well as those at high risk of joining a gang.
• Hold convicted gang members responsible for violating probation curfews, drug use, and other criminal activity.
• Develop standard questions for police to ask anyone they arrested to determine if the arrestee is part of a gang or has information about gang activity.
• Improve ties with federal law enforcement agencies that have the resources and intelligence to help investigate gang activity in Westchester.

“This plan to reduce gang violence is a result of my experience prosecuting violent crime in New York City and Westchester, and from talking with local police, community, and religious leaders to create a realistic and achievable approach to making our streets safer from gangs,” Schorr said. “We can’t bury our heads in the sand from this growing problem, and I’m confident that a multi-pronged solution such as the one I’ve proposed will result in a real reduction of dangerous gang activity in our county.”

And this is what DiFiore had to say about his plan:

“Dan Schorr displays a complete lack of understanding of how gang-related violent crime is currently handled by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and, indeed, how cases are investigated by the police and prosecuted by my office. Just as he fails to grasp the facts of cases he continually comments on in this race, his so-called plan demonstrates he has no idea what has been going on in the law enforcement community over the last four years.

For Schorr: More cop endorsements



GOP candidate Dan Schorr has scored another endorsement in his bid for District Attorney, this time from the Westchester County Police Retired Officers. He recently held a press conference lauding the endorsement of the Westchester County Police Benevolent Association and was endorsed earlier by the PBA of Westchester.

In a press release from Schorr’s campaign, the retired officers group cited issues such as lenient plea bargains to violent criminals as its reasons for supporting Schorr.

“Dan Schorr knows what it means to be a prosecutor. He has the experience and understanding to prosecute tough cases and keep Westchester residents safe. He will put an end to the easy plea bargains and restore trust between the DA’s office and law enforcement,” retired officers president Steve Hoey said.

Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent DA Janet DiFiore has racked up many endorsements from law enforcement types, including PBAs in Mamaroneck, Ossining, Yorktown, Greenburgh, Westchester County Chiefs of Police, Affiliated Police Association of Westchester, two state police groups, state court officers, and two New York City police unions, among others.

The retired officers group also endorsed GOP challenger Rob Astorino for Westchester County Executive.

Castro cancels Labor Day press conference

Apparently Westchester DA hopeful Tony Castro wanted a 3-day weekend, too.

Castro, who is challenging District Attorney Janet DiFiore in the Sept, 15 Democratic primary, postponed his scheduled news conference today to Wednesday, Sept. 9. The reason: “in consideration of the holiday and the reduced media staff.” He kept the time and place the same: 10:30 a.m. at his campaign headquarters on East Post Road.

While Castro’s people won’t say what this news conference is all about, I don’t think he’s dropping out of the race. There are too many “Castro for DA” signs all over the place, including 3 (!) on Westchester Avenue near the entrance of The Journal News. But I wonder if he’ll finally answer questions about the controversy surrounding a $200,000 gift to Castro’s kids from an ill man who made Castro executor of his will. Click here to read the story from my colleague Jon Bandler.

Castro’s Labor Day press conference

Who holds a press conference on Labor Day? Apparently Tony Castro, who is challenging Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary:

This was the email from the Castro campaign this afternoon:

“Please be advised there will be a press conference at the Tony Castro Headquarters at 10:30 am on September 7th. Thank you for your continued interest.”

With the Democratic primary less than two weeks away, I can’t imagine what this will be about.

The battle of the shield

Democrat Tony Castro, who posing a primary challenge to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, got ensnared in his own criticism over her use of the DA’s shield on her campaign website.

This was Castro’s press release, edited for length:

Castro: DiFiore Use of State Coat of Arms in Campaign is Illegal

Tony Castro today called upon the Attorney General to intervene and stop District Attorney Janet DiFiore from using the State coat of arms in her campaign advertising including her web-site, literature, television advertising and signage.  (Under state law — see legal background below — the State coat of arms can be used only for official business unless a specific statutory exception is made.)

“It’s hard to say what is more disturbing – the fact that despite being the District Attorney Janet DiFiore ignores the law or in the alternative that she is ignorant of the law,” Castro said.

“In the 1990s, the then Attorney General stopped The Fraternal Order of New York State Troopers from using the State coat of arms on their stationery because they are a private organization,” Castro said. “If it is illegal for The Fraternal Order of New York State Troopers to use the State coat of arms in their advertising, then it is illegal for Janet DiFiore to use it in her political campaign advertising.  The pertinent law has not changed.”

General Business Law §136 provides, in pertinent part, “Any person who: a. … shall place or cause to be placed … any advertisement, of any nature upon any flag, standard, color, shield or ensign of … the state of New York … or shall expose or cause to be exposed to public view any such flag, standard, color, shield or ensign … to which shall be attached, appended, affixed or annexed … any advertisement of any nature … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” The Attorney General of New York has held that General Business Law §136 (a recodification of Penal Law §1425) prohibits the use of the coat of arms for advertising purposes unless the advertising matter is official in character and authorized and provided for by statute (1930 N.Y. Op. Att’y Gen. 115; 1934 N.Y. Op. N.Y. Att’y Gen. 331; 1979 Op. N.Y. Att’y Gen. 63. The New York A.G. has also opined that the enforcement of this statute is for the District Attorney (1947 Op. N.Y. Att’y Gen. Dec. 12).

Now comes the irony … DiFiore’s campaign manager, Mary Kornman, pointed out that not only can DiFiore lawfully display the shield of the office she now holds, BUT THAT CASTRO PUT THE DA SHIELD ON HIS OWN WEBSITE!

“Mr. Castro’s credibility is strained beyond tolerance when he objects to the use of the shield of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, at the same time that he displays the very same shield on the home page of his own campaign website,” Gorman said.

Coincidentally, the shield has been removed from Castro’s website.

DiFiore’s campaign piggy bank

DiFiore has 500,000 reasons to be happy with her campaign fundraising; that’s how many dollars the incumbent Westchester district attorney has raised in her bid for a second term, according to her campaign press office.

She has $420,000 cash on hand to outspend her Democratic opponent, Tony Castro (who postponed his still-mysterious press conference in front of the Board of Elections until tomorrow) and to take on GOP rival Dan Schorr in the fall.

“I am pleased and proud to have broad-based support from so many people throughout Westchester and New York state who appreciate the quality and the integrity of the work I am doing,” DiFiore said in a written statement.  “The list of contributors includes many lawyers and former judges, prosecutors, and police officers who understand the importance of my work.”

We’ll get a list of some of those donors as soon as possible, since today was the deadline to file the mid-year campaign finance report with the New York State Board of Elections.