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Former Brooklyn DA fined $40,000 for campaign-related violations

April 2, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Former Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes was fined $40,000 by the NYC COIB for campaign-related violations. Eagle file photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board announced on Tuesday that it has fined former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes $40,000 for campaign-related violations. The fine is the highest campaign-related penalty in the board’s history.

Hynes admitted to “routine and extensive” use of the city’s resources during his 2013 re-election campaign and to having subordinates use city time and resources during his 2013 re-election campaign that he ultimately lost to Ken Thompson.

“Hynes admits to routine and extensive use of city resources for his 2013 reelection campaign and to having his city subordinates use city time and city resources for activities related to the campaign,” the board said in a statement.

The board also announced settlements with four of members of Hynes’ former staff including one person who is still a member of the Brooklyn DA’s Office.

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Jerry Schmetterer, the former Kings County District Attorney’s Office (KCDA) public information officer, was fined $6,000; Amy Feinstein, the former chief assistant DA, was fined $4,500; and Joanna Zmijewski, the former administrative assistant, was fined $3,000, according to court documents.

Lance Ogiste, who still works in the office, was fined $1,000 for using a KCDA email account in effort to get the New York Caribbean News to endorse Hynes’ candidacy, according to court documents.

From May 2012 through Nov. 5, 2013, while DA in Brooklyn, Hynes used his KCDA email account and his KCDA computer to exchange over 5,000 campaign-related emails. He also had employees of the DA’s Office work for his campaign. Use of the computers, email and staff violate the city charter and board rules.

“In the midst of a feverishly contested primary race, I made the mistake of using my city email for campaign-related matters,” Hynes said in a statement issued by his attorney Jim Walden. “If anyone is to blame for this, it should be me and me alone. I hope my decision to resolve the matter early causes the COIB to leave my former staff alone, they did nothing wrong and they served the public good doggedly every day they came to work.”

Hynes was district attorney in Brooklyn from 1990 until 2013, when he lost to Ken Thompson in an election. He joined the office in 1969 as an assistant district attorney.

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