|Can't we all just get along?|
|Can't we all just get along?|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
According to an article posted on the news site Phillipstown.info, Putnam County, New York District Attorney Adam Levy is taking the increasingly high stakes feud between himself and Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith into State Supreme Court. Some locals say that in doing so Levy has set the temperature on the oven of eastern Putnam Republican politics to “ broil.” Reporters described Levy as “agitated and angry” during a recent press conference.
Levy, the son of TV's Judge Judy, told the media that Smith, the head of the county’s police force, is “out of control” and is hell bent on destroying Levy’s reputation.
As a result Levy said he had filed a $5 million lawsuit against Smith. The suit seeks $3 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.
Although both individuals are elected public officials, Levy said he brought the lawsuit as a private citizen and that the matter “should not” involve county funds on either end.
Also at the press conference Michael Sussman, a well-known Westchester trial attorney, said he believed the lawsuit was unprecedented in the history of the state.
In his lawsuit, Levy alleges that Smith made a series of defamatory statements in March of this year related to the sheriff’s investigation into the alleged rape of a 13-year old girl in 2010.
The accused, Alexandru Hossu, was a personal friend of Levy’s who frequently stayed overnight at his home. Levy first met Hossu at a local gym and later invited him to his home to help train Levy and his family. Levy said Hossu also served as a male nanny on occasion for his son.
Basically Levy’s legal complaint is the assertion that Smith falsely accused him of interfering in
Smith’s investigation and also attempting to use his influence to affect the outcome of the investigation. “Sheriff Smith engaged in a pattern of malicious statements, which were intended to defame the sitting district attorney, claiming maliciously and falsely that the district attorney interfered in a serious criminal matter,” Sussman said.
Levy denies those charges and says that in the five months since Smith made his allegations about Levy the sheriff has produced no evidence.
“There is no way, none, that I would have been able to, as the sitting DA, handle that prosecution. I followed my ethical, my legal, my moral obligations as DA, as a father, as a person who truly cares about children to make sure that there was a professional district attorney’s office available to assist Sheriff Smith and his department in the investigation of my family friend,” said Levy.
The criminal case against Hossu, charging him with two counts of rape, was filed by the Westchester District Attorney’s office. Hossu, who was subsequently found to be a 35-year old illegal immigrant from Romania, has been in the Putnam County jail (run by the sheriff) since his arrest last March.
Sheriff Smith says he thinks the lawsuit is politically motivated.
He has pointed out that it was filed less than a month before the Republican primary on Sept. 10. Running for a fourth term, Smith is challenged by Kevin McConville, a former chief of the MTA police.
The winner of the primary will very likely be the next sheriff because there is no Democratic candidate.
“Plain and simple, this lawsuit is politically motivated, is frivolous, without any merit and will be defended vigorously in a court of law,” Smith said Wednesday, according to published reports.
“He would say that no matter when I filed the suit,” said Levy. During the press conference Levy admitted that members of his family, including his wife, have donated a total of $5,000 to McConville’s campaign.
According to Levy, Smith maliciously misled the media in stating that Hossu lived at Levy’s home at the time of the investigation and arrest in March. This, according to Levy, led to a media feedingfrenzy at his home, including helicopters hovering overhead.
Levy is the son of Judy Sheindlin, star of the long-running court room television show “Judge Judy,”
When he was elected district attorney back in 2008 Levy said he tried to develop a good working relationship with Smith and his team. “I had some good ideas or at least I thought so.”
But as time passed Smith began to change.
“His demeanor became more political in nature,” Levy told reporters.
Levy said he offered to sit down and bury the hatchet.
“But for reasons only known to Don, he refused.”
Despite the infighting and acrimony between the county’s top cop and chief prosecutor, Levy said their respective offices were continuing to work together effectively.
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