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Vito Lopez, disgraced assemblyman, dead

Gone: Former Assemblyman Vito Lopez died Monday at 74.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Vito Lopez, former Williamsburg assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic boss, died on Monday night. He was 74.

Lopez was a powerful party honcho known for bringing home the bacon for his district, but fell from grace when a state ethics panel stripped him of Assembly seniority in 2012 after it found him guilty of sexually harassing his young female interns — including groping and trying to kiss them, telling them to “dress sexy” in the office, and asking one of the women give him a manicure.

The harassment scandal turned Lopez from a 14-term incumbent and Brooklyn kingmaker to a political pariah in a matter of weeks, with even his closest allies disassociating themselves from him in the fall of 2012, though he did not resign until May of 2013.

Lopez made a last-ditch effort at public office in late 2013, but upstart Antonio Reynoso — who had previously worked for former Lopez chief of staff Diana Reyna — roundly defeated the disgraced assemblyman.

The state settled a lawsuit with the two interns earlier this year, costing taxpayers $545,000.

Even during his heyday, Lopez was divisive. He authored the controversial loft law, which protected residents in illegally converted warehouse buildings but which critics said would accelerate gentrification in Williamsburg.

The long-time pol also crafted a bill to help the city crack down on illegal hotels — a problem that still plagues the city.

Perhaps most notably, the powerful Democratic boss built a fiefdom atop his Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and subsidiary organizations.

The organization received $1 million in taxpayer’s cash in 2010, when this paper uncovered that Lopez had been renting space for his political club at a steep discount from the organization for a decade — and collecting thousands of dollars in unexplained consulting fees.

Lopez had battled cancer for years, and announced in 2010 that his esophageal cancer had returned. The disgraced pol spent much of his twilight years out of the public eye, making few publicized appearances — though he returned to the headlines this year after the attorney general Eric Schneiderman took him to court to recover $330,000 in fines he owed the legislature over the sexual harassment incident.

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrown@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–9309. Follow her at twitter.com/rbbrown.
Reach deputy editor Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
"Lopez, who had apparently been battling leukemia for years, was a powerful force in Brooklyn politics, until he was forced to over sexual harassment charges in 2012."

Pardon me, and I'm not starting any kind of trouble on the air like this, but he was forced to what? What was he forced to do?
John Wasserman
Nov. 10, 2015, 12:13 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
If he was forced to die, I'd say that there is something fishy about this story and more to it than meets the eye, if you don't mind my saying so.
Nov. 10, 2015, 12:16 pm
Jim from Greenpoint says:
being called a control freak.....
Nov. 10, 2015, 12:32 pm
Cherie from Ridgewood says:
Only a large handful poor people and seniors (who were used as pawns in his unquenchable thirst for power amongst devilish developers and middling, career politicians) will miss him.
Nov. 10, 2015, 4:10 pm
jay from nyc says:
how many lives did this guy ruin is the relevant question?
Nov. 10, 2015, 6:47 pm
Joe from Brooklyn says:
For better or for worse it is doubtful that New York City will ever see a politician quite like Vito Lopez again. While it is easy for the political class and even the more casual observers to cast stones and to damn him - there was a time and not so long ago, when nothing important happened in this city without his fingerprints.

Presidents, US Senators, Governors, Mayors, and Speakers may have personally disliked him, but they all sought his support. How many photos can we pull out of President Clinton, Hillary, Governor Pataki, Rudy, Speaker Quinn, etc, in aprons on major holidays feeding seniors in Bushwick, not because they wanted to, but because they were summoned by Assemblyman Lopez?

It is easy to remember him as a sad, ill, deeply flawed old man, but many in Bushwick and in other neighborhoods, whether they know it or not sleep in affordable apartments tonight due to actions that he took in Albany. Many seniors are treated with respect and dignity at an amazing center in Bushwick daily, due to his vigilance. The list of good things that the man did can fill pages. None of this will wipe away the bad - but that doesn't mean the good should be forgotten.



Nov. 11, 2015, 10:22 pm
Jim from Brooklyn says:
all we can say: Vito shame on you !!!!......
Nov. 16, 2015, 2:27 pm

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