Ex-Chief Judge Janet DiFiore still has NY-paid driver, Guard

New York’s former chief justice – who resigned in July while facing an ethics probe – still has court officials chauffeuring and protecting her in two state SUVs, The Post has learned.

One of the bodyguards was spotted repeatedly this week in a black Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo outside ex-Judge Janet DiFiore’s swanky penthouse apartment in Westchester County.

The other was spotted behind the wheel of a black Chevrolet Tahoe with state Unified Court System plates, circling the block when not parked in front of the building.

Since stepping down on Aug. 31, DiFiore, 67, has been chauffeured to a New York Giants football game, shopping trips and dinners at restaurants, according to a source familiar with the matter.

She was also accompanied at times by unidentified staff, the source said.

Those trips appear to violate the terms of a 2018 state court memo cited by Law360, which first reported Thursday that court officials continue to serve DiFiore.

Janet DiFiore answers a question during a Senate court hearing on her appointment as Chief Justice of the New York City Circuit Court of Appeals on January 20, 2016 at the Capitol in Albany, New York.
Janet DiFiore resigned in July while facing an ethics probe.
AP

The memo reportedly said that “personal use” of government vehicles is prohibited and that they “may only be used for the carriage of passengers, except for government employees engaged in official business, or for… non-government employees engaged in official business with government employees”.

Additionally, the Office of Court Administration has never previously provided vehicles and court officials to a former chief justice, a source said.

The officers assigned to DiFiore work about 15 to 20 hours of overtime per week, including weekends, and are on track to make about $150,000 annually, a source said.

A Jeep driver parked in front of Janet DiFiore's home
Janet DiFiore has been chauffeured to shopping sprees and restaurants since her retirement took effect on August 31.
Robert Mueller

“This is just an egregious benefit that’s costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” a law enforcement source said.

A spokesman for the state court administration office said in a prepared statement Thursday that the unusual order did not violate court rules.

“Although we do not discuss security charges, the nature and level of security precautions are determined by law enforcement officers in our public safety department, not individual judges,” said spokesman Lucian Chalfen.

A Jeep driver parked in front of Janet DiFiore's home
Officers assigned to Janet DiFiore are on track to make about $150,000 a year.
Robert Mueller

“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly in the current environment, it has been determined in this situation that the continued presence of the former Chief Justice is required.”

Chalfen declined to elaborate or say if DiFiore faced any specific threat.

But in a follow-up statement, he appeared to blame the situation on New York State Court Officers Association President Dennis Quirk, who was suspended from his job as a court officer last year for alleged misconduct after posting DiFiore’s home addresses on Facebook while he had argued with her about a COVID-19 vaccination order for court officials.

A vehicle parked at Janet DiFiore's home
Janet DiFiore was sometimes accompanied by unidentified associates.
Robert Mueller

At the time, Chalfen said Quirk put DiFiore at “serious risk of death” by revealing the addresses of their homes in Westchester and the Hamptons.

“When disgruntled individuals get into the doxxing business and intentionally leak information about officers like home addresses and phone numbers, you can’t say, ‘Why is there a need for increased awareness and law enforcement certainty?'” Chalfen said Thursday.

Quirk, who retired before the end of his 30-day suspension but still heads the union, called for a “criminal” investigation into DiFiore’s safety arrangements.

According to a source, the Office of Court Administration has never previously provided vehicles and court officials to a former chief justice.
Robert Mueller

“No threats against Judge DiFiore have been reported. It’s illegal, unnecessary and a waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

DiFiore unexpectedly resigned just six years into her 14-year tenure as the New York Supreme Court leader, saying it was “time for me to move on to the next chapter of my professional life,” without giving a reason.

However, it quickly became apparent that she was under investigation by the state Judicial Conduct Commission in connection with a letter she wrote to the hearing officer in Quirk’s disciplinary case.

A poster reading "NYSJ Official Store"
Janet DiFiore declined an interview Thursday night.
Robert Mueller

In the August 2021 letter, DiFiore said Quirk “shows no remorse” and urged the hearing officer to “use all means at your disposal to address this incident and prevent future wrongdoing by the respondent.”

DiFiore declined an interview Thursday night when a doorman at her building contacted her at the Post’s request.

“She said she wasn’t expecting anyone. You can’t go up,’ said the bouncer.

DiFiore also did not return a text message sent to a cell phone listed in her name.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/01/ex-chief-judge-janet-difiore-still-has-ny-paid-driver-guard/ Ex-Chief Judge Janet DiFiore still has NY-paid driver, Guard

JACLYN DIAZ

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