Brooklyn’s former top lawman could soon find himself behind bars.
The city Department of Investigations dropped a report claiming that 23-year district attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes illegally paid a political consultant more than $1.1 million in public funds between 2003 and 2013, according to our sister publication the New York Post — including almost $220,000 in cash seized from criminals diverted to his unsuccessful re-election campaign last year.
The Post reports that the agency says that Hynes — who lost his longtime office to now-District Attorney Ken Thompson in 2013 — dolied out the city’s dough to consultant Mortimer Matz at a rate of $536.40 a day.
Investigators also claim that Hynes used his office e-mail account and the office e-mail accounts of his staffers to help in his failed re-election bid. The law prohibits the use of public resources for political purposes, and the Post suggested the former prosecutor could face charges of larceny.
The investigation also found that Hynes had sought political advice from Judge Barry Kamins — in violation of laws prohibiting sitting judges from getting involved in elections — and improperly discussed cases with him. An attorney for Kamins told the Post his client was guilty of nothing but having friendly conversations.
“Joe Hynes and Barry Kamins have known each other for 40 years and have talked politics most of that time,” lawyer Paul Shechtman told the Post. “Anyone who knows Barry knows that he would not abuse his judicial office.”
Kamins has been relieved of duty because of the report.
Hynes could not be reached for comment, but his longtime critics applauded the report’s findings.
“For decades, Hynes acted like he was above the law. That era has ended,” said Brooklyn attorney John O’Hara.
O’Hara gained prominence in the 1990s after repeatedly running against Hynes’s political allies — and after Hynes famously prosecuted him for voting in the wrong polling place.
The Department of Investigations has referred the matter to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. A legal source told us that most investigations of this nature are prosecuted by the local district attorney, but suggested that the Department may have thought that improper due to the recent bitter campaign between Hynes and Thompson.
The source predicted a high-profile prosecution, as Schneiderman is seeking re-election.
“I think Schneiderman’s going to take it and run with it,” the insider said.
Schneiderman declined to comment.