New York bill awaiting approval of Kathy Hochul fires cops after federal guilty pleas

Only in New York!

Legislation awaiting Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature would fill an existing loophole in state law that has allowed criminal officials in the historically scandal-plagued state to remain in office despite pleading guilty to federal crimes.

New York law already automatically removes officers from office after they are convicted of state and federal felonies.

But there has been legal confusion for years about whether politicians who plead guilty can technically stay in office while they await FBI convictions.

“The time between a pleading and a conviction can stretch for months. This brings certainty that matters to those who rule and those they serve,” said Rep. John McDonald III (D-Albany) of the bill he co-sponsored with State Senator James Gaughran (D-Nassau). Has.

The state legislature passed the law — one of several hundred awaiting action from Hochul before the end of the year — with near-unanimous support this spring.

Records show Senator Fred Akshar (R-Binghamton) making no comment and offering the only vote against the bill in both houses.

Benjamin is still fighting the charges.
Former Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned in April shortly after his arrest on federal corruption charges.
Alex Tobacco

McDonald said Thursday he was optimistic Hochul would sign the law.

“They fully understand the issue and see the issue clearly and have not vetoed it,” he said of talks with her government.

A Hochul spokeswoman said Thursday the governor is reviewing the legislation.

Its passing comes after a litany of notable elected officials have sunk in recent years after being convicted or indicted for federal crimes.

Hochul’s first lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, resigned in April shortly after his arrest on federal corruption charges, which he is still fighting.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos also resigned after being slapped with federal charges, though they both pleaded not guilty.

And while former state senator Carl Kruger left his position relatively quickly while pleading guilty to federal corruption charges in 2011, others have been less calm.

Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis claimed for weeks that he was still in charge after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges in 2014 before being convicted.

“The fact is, I’ve been on trial for over seven years and, at the end of the day, I’m charged with two misdemeanors, both of which were filing taxes,” he told Journal News at the time.

McDonald said the law would clear up any confusion in the state.
MP John McDonald III (D-Albany) said he was optimistic Hochul would sign the law.
Hans Penink

Former Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse also argued that he did not officially step down from power after facing a wire fraud charge and questioned whether he used campaign funds for personal expenses.

“That’s not to say he won’t work with the city to find a way to leave office,” his attorney, William Dreyer, told Spectrum News at the time.

McDonald told the Post that power struggles in Westchester County’s Mount Vernon and in Cohoes, which is part of his parliamentary district, inspired him to introduce the legislation.

“In both cases, officers walked away before it got out of hand because the result was obvious,” McDonald said.

But that may not be the case the next time an elected official faces indictment in New York as long as the current loophole remains in place, a law memo said.

“This law will ensure parity between federal and state criminal procedures while ensuring that unethical officers are removed from office as soon as possible,” the memo said.

The existing law appears to make little sense when it comes to allowing criminal politicians to remain in office despite pleading guilty in federal court, said former Queens prosecutor James Quinn.

“I don’t know why the gap existed at all,” he said Thursday. New York bill awaiting approval of Kathy Hochul fires cops after federal guilty pleas


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