Mimi Rocah Deserves Scrutiny
By TONY CASTRO, Esq.

Tribune Campaign Trail, Governance, History, Law, Op-Ed, People, Police Department News, Political Analysis, Politics, Scarsdale, NY, Westchester County, NY, White Plains, NY 8 Comments

Tony Castro, Esq. has been a practicing attorney for over 25 years. He began his legal career in the Office of the District Attorney, Bronx County. During his 14 years as an assistant district attorney in one of the nation’s largest and busiest district attorney’s office, he acquired invaluable experience

Tony Castro, Esq. has been a practicing attorney for over 25 years. He began his legal career in the Office of the District Attorney, Bronx County. During his 14 years as an assistant district attorney in one of the nation’s largest and busiest district attorney’s office, he acquired invaluable experience

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — June 11, 2020 — My name is Tony Castro and I am a former Democratic candidate for Westchester District Attorney and a former prosecutor. I am writing about the race for Westchester DA.

Mimi Rocah’s political stunt last week in which she demanded that the New York State Attorney General investigate the Mount Vernon Police Department should be closely scrutinized.

Her demand was based on audio tapes from a Mt. Vernon police officer who recorded conversations with his coworkers about stories they had heard about alleged misconduct and brutality in the department.

But Ms. Rocah did not even hear the full tapes. She based her judgement solely on a news story. At best, her press conference demonstrated opportunistic, political expediency from a political candidate. At worst, her hyperbolic statements indicated not only a disregard for facts, but also an indifference to basic principles of prosecutorial ethics. If this is any indication of how she will prosecute cases, then we need to seriously consider if we want her to be the chief law enforcement official in Westchester County.

To bring a criminal case against an individual, whether or not he or she is a police officer, a prosecutor must rely on legally sufficient evidence. Conversations of one officer telling another about a story he heard are hearsay, even if recorded on audio tape. Unless the information can be corroborated with additional evidence or sworn testimony, the tapes alone are not enough to charge anyone with a crime.

DA Scarpino stated that his Office, in conjunction with the FBI, conducted thorough investigations on every claim made in those tapes and those investigations are continuing. As of now, no additional evidence has been uncovered to corroborate the allegations. Whenever the facts warrant it, he does prosecute police misconduct cases and has done so about one dozen times in his first three years as DA. As a former prosecutor who has known DA Scarpino for years, I trust his word.

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Arbery at the hands of police have finally created a reckoning on racism, brutality and policing that our country desperately needs. As we rightfully examine our elected officials through the prism of how they will dismantle systemic racism, we must also do the same for their challengers. Ms. Rocah does not get to escape that scrutiny.

A few months ago, during a Democratic committee meeting, I had an opportunity to ask Ms. Rocah how many police brutality cases she handled as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and head of the White Plains division of the United States Attorney’s Office. Her answer struck me because she never directly addressed the question, simply stating that those cases were handled by the NYS Attorney General’s Office. She left the impression that she never handled any police brutality cases and was deflecting the responsibility to the Attorney General.

To be clear, police brutality cases are in fact prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office. They are based on civil rights violations and can carry significant penalties including jail time. During candidate Rocah’s tenure as an AUSA there were at least three major cases involving deaths of civilians in Westchester County. They involved the deaths of off-duty Officer Christopher Ridley (2008), PACE University football player DJ Henry (2010), and retired Marine Kenneth Chamberlain (2011). Why weren’t civil rights violation cases brought by the US Attorney’s Office in any of those incidents?

There are also many other types of police brutality cases that do not necessarily involve the death of civilians and there are an even greater number of cases of police misconduct. In view of that, why did Mimi Rocah refuse to answer the question about how many such cases she prosecuted? The only reasonable answer that can be discerned from her silence is that she has never prosecuted any such case.

It’s critically important that all Democratic voters in Westchester carefully consider their decisions on whom to support for Westchester County District Attorney in the June 23rd Primary. In doing so, I caution them not to be misled by political opportunism and misleading statements from a challenger, but rather to focus on the irrefutable facts and past performance of both candidates as prosecutors. Ms. Rocah appears to never have prosecuted a case of police misconduct or brutality in her career. By contrast, DA Scarpino has prosecuted about one dozen such cases based on the facts and evidence. He has a lengthy and impeccable track record of public service to Westchester County. To me, the choice is clear — DA Scarpino!

 

Tony Castro, Esq.

www.castroesq.com

 

 

TribuneMimi Rocah Deserves Scrutiny
By TONY CASTRO, Esq.

Comments 8

  1. Rocah is a total opportunist…Her campaign isn’t based on any particular failure of the present DA beacause there aren’t any…and Tony Castro ought to know. He ran against Jeanine Pirro and with 50,000 dollars more and two more weeks he would have beaten her. District Attorneys deal with local issues of enforcing the criminal law. They are the chief law enforcement officer of the County but they have zero obligation to respond to calls for arrests and prosecutions unless and until their is sufficient evidence to present to a sitting grand jury. Those of you who suspect corruption have no understanding of what is required to successfully prosecute a criminal case. The evidence not only has to be able to convince a grand jury of probable cause to indict but any DA worth his salt won’t bring an indictment unless he or she feels confident that a conviction will result..eg that he can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and convince all 12 jurors that a conviction is warranted. Anything less would amount to a a miscarriage of justice. And when there is exculpatory evidence under the Brady rule, the DA must turn it over to the defense post hoc vice. So none of you posters has pointed to any failure in the office of DA Scarpino that would warrant replacing him. Ms Rocah recognized that when she announced her candidacy. That is why she relied on her gender when in fact there already have been two DA’s that have been women, Jeanine Pirro and Janet DiFiore. So gender is a faux issue. Many of you don’t remember what Westchester Was like before the DA’s office consolidated in White Plains under Carl Vergari. That eliminated croniism and it eliminated disparities of prosecution and sentences..Before Vergari you could be arrested tried and convicted in one jurisdiction and get a totally different outcome than in another city town or village. Now the DA’s office has over 100 attorneys the largest lawfirm in the county and under subsequent DA’s the purview of the office has grown to include spousal abuse, victim witness assistance to make sure both are treated with respect, and an office that is respected around the nation. Ms Rocah may be a TV star, but we know what happens when we put celebrity before experience.

  2. I was undecided until these comments reminded me of situations leading to this election:

    1. What happened to the DUI case with the Mayor’s employee?
    2. That Yonkers cop that pled guilty to doing an illegal search. Has ALL his cases been reviewed?
    3. The stories here about the petitions for the judge candidates. Were they sent to his office? If so, did he investigate the situationsp?
    4. And, now the Mount Vernon situation.

    I don’t like her campaign, but I will vote for Rocah and any candidate challenging corruption. I hope she doesn’t let me down.

  3. Mimi’s campaign started out with negative attacks and smearing to help her campaign. I was undecided but leaning in her direction. She lost my and many others for her poor choices. She ought to change that approach it will cost votes.

  4. Bottom line, Rocah has my vote and that of my family in the Dem primary. She will win by a large margine due to Yonkers, Mount Vernon and WhitePlains.

  5. integrity is not what Rocah has….she is an opportunist…she announced her candidacy and cited her gender as a reason to elect her…her ads on this site and others claim that she will stand up to Trump….What on earth does a local prosecutor have to do with standing up to the president..she is attempting to cash in on the county’s aversion to donald trumps presidency but the job specs for DA don;t allow her to challenge the president ..that is way above her pay grade….

    1. It’s better that any elected sees the big picture and aspires to do things above their pay grade than neglect to do what they are being paid for. There are issues of local concern such as arrests of immigrants in local court houses and many others, which speak directly to the policies of the Trump administration, but its difficult to interpret things when looking at them from a narrow perspective of Washington vs the rest of the USA. She came out and spoke on a serious issue which would fall squarely in the purview of the DA’s office. She gets criticized. She speaks of issues on the national level. She gets criticized. Maybe she mentioned her gender because she knows New Yorkers are tired of the three men in a room culture that prevails in many elected offices here. She is intelligent, well learned, experience and unafraid to call out corruption. The latter quality is derived from the fact that she is not beholden to anyone in higher political realms.

  6. Mimi Rocah did the right thing. The public would be skeptical if she had not stepped out immediately to show how she would address what appears to be an explosive miscarriage of justice in the handling of these allegations of police corruption. What needs scrutiny is the effort which has been placed thus far into investigating these serious allegations. We are listening to tapes in the actual voices of police officers involved in numerous cases of evidence planting, and assault allegations, which continued to be prosecuted while DA Scarpino said even in February he continued to get tapes. All the while, no notification made to the defense. And a huge photo of one defendant who the article identifies as one of the defendants who was identified by police as selling drugs in Mount Vernon while he was in another State in the South. His case was eventually dismissed.

    She is a woman of integrity, and was willing to speak on this matter. No scrutiny needed here.

    We need more people in position of power to speak out, other than the few who have come forward. But the reality is that some will not speak out until the appointed hour before the primary, when they plan to endorse the incumbent. That is what needs scrutiny. The public is keeping rollcall. We know why some key endorsements may be late in their arrival. June may be the victory line that all you writers are trying to get to by these colorful recommendations of Scarpino and these jabs at Mimi Rocah’s stellar reputation, but the public may not see it that way. Place your scrutiny elsewhere, preferably in the revisiting of the cases which fall at the center of these allegation. The whole thing sounds like the trailer to the “Rampart” movie.

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