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Brooklyn’s Public Administrator introduced at Hispanic Heritage event

October 20, 2022 Rob Abruzzese
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DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Not many people know who the public administrator is or what they do, but it is an important job that can impact the lives of nearly every family in Brooklyn.

It’s why the Second Judicial District Equal Justice Committee of the courts held a Hispanic Heritage Month event where they decided to highlight Javier Ortiz, Brooklyn’s public administrator in the Kings County Surrogate’s Court on Monday.

“At a time where there are still many firsts, I am happy to say that Javier Ortiz is not the first Hispanic public administrator in Brooklyn,” said Surrogate Court Judge Rosemarie Montalbano.

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The event was part of the court’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” The event was co-sponsored by the Cervantes Society of the New York State Courts and the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Trust & Estates Section and Surrogate’s Court Committee.

Judge Joanne Quinones was the master of ceremonies for the event that also featured both of Brooklyn’s Surrogate Court judges – Hon. Rosemarie Montalbano and Hon. Carol Edmead. Court employee Lisette Morales introduced Ortiz.

Members of the Kings County Public Administrator’s staff (pictured from left): Jian Wang, accountant, Afia Griffith, nursing home case manager, Matthew Shedrick, ad hoc investigator, Tyrone Culler, case manager, LaToya Richardson, office manager, Public Administrator Javier Ortiz, Simone Bennett, deputy public administrator, Nelson Guzman, investigator, Yarittzi Estevez, bookkeeper, and Richard Grandison, case manager. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

“The celebration of heritage, culture and achievements engenders pride, cohesiveness, and brings people closer together,” said Surrogate Judge Edmead. “Celebration of Hispanic heritage educates and enlightens others to the depths of accomplishments, contributions and the richness of Hispanic culture. The shared celebration of Hispanic heritage fosters respect of the Hispanic people and their culture.”

Before Morales gave the official introduction for Ortiz, Justice Montalbano talked about him at length. After all, Ortiz worked for her for the past seven years through four different courts before landing in his current role.

“Javier has never forgotten the values his family has instilled in him – integrity, work ethic and discipline,” said Justice Montalbano. “I know this firsthand because for over seven years Javier was my court attorney.”

Lisette Morales, acting president of the Cervantes Society of the New York State Courts, and Lt. Jessica Hernandez, president of the Latino Court Officers Society. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

Oritz is one of four sons of Puerto Rican immigrants. He was born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and lives in Bushwick. He attended Touro Law Center and worked as an assistant to the town attorney for the town of Babylon for four years before he took a job as an assistant law clerk at the Kings County Supreme Court in 2014.

Ortiz explained the duties of his office, which administers the estates of people of Brooklyn who die without a will, when the heirs cannot probate the estate according to the law. However, in explaining how these tasks are carried out, Ortiz gave a tremendous amount of credit to his staff.

Kings County Surrogate Court Judges: Hon. Rosemarie Montalbano (left) and Hon. Carol Edmead. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

“The public administrator protects the decedent’s property from waste, loss or theft, conducts their own investigations to discover all assets, liquidates assets at public sale or distributes them to heirs, pays the decedent’s bills and taxes, and locates persons entitled to inherit from the estate and ensures they receive their inheritance,” Ortiz explained. “Fortunately, with the help of my staff and counsel, I can give each estate the attention it requires.”

In front of a crowd of about 60 people, including many attorneys, judges, and courthouse employees, Ortiz took the time to introduce each member of his staff in attendance at the time and explained what each of them does.

“Please understand, in 2019 there were about 7 or 8,000 deaths in Brooklyn, and then COVID hit, and those numbers skyrocketed,” Ortiz said. “I’m lucky because my staff knows so much. We’re working through a lot of challenges. They’re good people and without them I cannot do my job.
I work for the estate. I’m here to represent the estate to the full extent of my capacity. It’s not easy. There are a lot of hurdles and thankfully I have a good team. I hope to see it grow.”

Immediate Past President of the Brooklyn Bar Association Armena Gayle and Charles Fiore. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
Daniel Antonelli, secretary at the Brooklyn Bar Association. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese
Javier Ortiz and Steven Finkelstein. Eagle photo by Robert Abruzzese

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