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Touchy Details: In televised Brooklyn DA Debate, Ama Dwimoh faces past issues

September 6, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Controversy came up surrounding Ama Dwimoh's departure from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office in 2010. She claims that it was over philosophical differences, but there is more to the story. File photo by Rob Abruzzese.
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A tense back-and-forth during a debate among the six candidates for district attorney in Brooklyn delivered an inadvertent bombshell when Ama Dwimoh’s reason for leaving the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office in 2010 was called into question.

During campaign speeches and public forums, Dwimoh has maintained that she left the District Attorney’s Office because she did not agree with the direction it was headed under then-DA Charles “Joe” Hynes. On Tuesday night, she questioned why Eric Gonzalez refused to do the same and that’s when trouble started.

“I left the office because I disagreed with the way Joe Hynes was handling cases and things that were going on,” Dwimoh said during a debate hosted by NY1. “Trust wasn’t a priority. You stayed and continued.”

That’s when Gonzalez dropped the bomb that Dwimoh, who headed the Crimes Against Children Bureau for 13 years, was demoted before she left office.

Dwimoh denied the accusation and said that she ultimately quit because an assistant DA was caught lying in an unethical manner which caused her to realize that morally she no longer agreed with how the office was run.

“Let’s get it straight — I left the DA’s Office because of the actions of a young lawyer and that they didn’t tell the truth,” Dwimoh said. “You knew about that because the whole office knew about it.”

Anne Swern confirmed that she was one of a four-person team to investigate accusations that Dwimoh had been abusive to employees at the time and said that 23 people in her office all testified that she was “an abusive boss.”

“Twenty-three members of her staff were spoken to,” Swern confirmed. “To a person, they said that she was an abusive boss, that she mistreated them and that she was not available. If she was not there to yell and scream at them, she was not available to answer their questions.”

In addition to accusations of abuse, there were accusations that Dwimoh wasn’t putting in the hours that are expected of a bureau chief.

“When asked for timesheets, she did not have those timesheets, she couldn’t reconstruct those time sheets, and, in fact, did not substantiate that she was in the office available to her staff,” Swern said.

A knowledgeable source who worked for the DA’s Office at the time confirmed the story with the Brooklyn Eagle and said that Dwimoh was asked by Hynes to accept what was considered a demotion to the Homicide Bureau. An additional source, who was in the room at the time, said that after denying the demotion Hynes presented Dwimoh with an ultimatum: quit or be fired.

“Her resignation was requested in lieu of termination,” the source told the Eagle. “She was allowed to use six weeks’ vacation time, she disappeared for six weeks where she got paid and then they allowed her to resign, but had she decided not to resign than she would have been terminated.”

The source added that “out of loyalty to her service” Hynes offered Dwimoh an opportunity to resign rather than being fired. 

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