Tim Sini, Ray Tierney confuses at Newsday City Hall for Suffolk district attorney race

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini and challenger Ray Tierney flocked to issues including state guarantor, Sini prosecution and political patronage in sometimes wonderful exchanges in a Newsday Live Town Hall.

Sini, a Babylonian Democrat, is seeking another term as Suffolk’s top prosecutor against Tierney, from Holtsville, a former assistant U.S. lawyer who lined up on the lines between the Republican and Conservative parties.

Sini said his office secured the verdict of MS-13 gang members and also implemented measures to reform the office after former district attorney Thomas Spota was convicted of federal corruption charges.

“There have been no MS-13 murders in Suffolk County in the last few years … because we prevented them from happening,” Sini said.

Tierney characterized Sini as inexperienced and inefficient.

“You need ethics, and you need experience, and you lack both,” Tierney told Sini.

Sini and Tierney also argued over methods of combating MS-13 gang violence, public safety in Suffolk County, and diversity in employment in the district attorney’s office in response to questions submitted to Newsday by Suffolk residents.

Joye Brown, Newsday’s associate editor, moderated the virtual town hall in the new Newsday Studio 2 in Melville.

The event can be seen on newsdaylive.com, which begins at noon Tuesday.

Sini, 41, served as Suffolk County Police Commissioner, Suffolk County Deputy Public Security Officer under County Executive Steven Bellone, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern New York District Criminal Division, where he worked as a court administrator.

Tierney, 55, Suffolk County Off-Tracking Betting Corp.’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer, served as Assistant Suffolk County Attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, and as Assistant District Attorney for Violent Criminal Business and Crime Strategies at Kings. County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

At Newsday City Hall, Sini outlined her office’s efforts to stop violence against gangs MS-13, while Tierney focused on crime in the pockets of the county.

Tierney said Sini’s office had failed to investigate reports of shootings in communities, including Huntington Station and Wyandanch.

“These cases are not being investigated,” Tierney claimed.

Sini replied: “No one pretends that there are not only major public safety issues, not only in Suffolk County, but around the country, but this notion that the police department and law enforcement are not investigating shots fired is just not true, simply not true. ”

Sini said his office had helped prevent the killing of MS-13 gang members through surveillance and other methods.

“We were able to stop murder from happening because we wanted to listen to the planning of murder on the wiretap,” he said.

“We need to stay focused on gangs like MS-13, but the mission now is to make sure they do not reconstruct themselves,” Sini said.

Both Sini and Tierney condemned state bail reform laws that went into effect in 2020, eliminating cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes.

Tierney said Sini should have lobbied more aggressively against bail law when the democratically controlled state law considered it in 2019.

“It was your party, you should have been stronger,” Tierney said.

Sini said he had supported the idea of ​​not locking defendants solely because they could not afford to post bail. But he said he had expressed concern in Albany that bail would jeopardize public safety.

“We fought hard against this law and we will continue to fight hard against this law to make it better for public safety,” Sini said.

Tierney and Sini also clashed over the office’s denial of arson against Suffolk County police officer Weldon Drayton Jr. in 2019.

Four weeks into Drayton’s trial, Sinis’ office asked the judge in the case to drop the charges against Drayton after there were disagreements among witnesses, Newsday reported at the time.

The top county prosecutor in the case resigned, and all charges were dismissed against Drayton, who was reinstated in his job in 2020.

“If you have not tried countless cases before, if you have not addressed these countless thorny issues when it comes to ethics, you do not know how to deal with them,” Tierney said in criticism of the district attorney’s performance in the case.

Sini said his office handled the case “appropriately”, although he admitted the trial, “was not executed well.”

Sini continued, “You are not going to execute every single case perfectly when you do thousands of cases every year … We handled it correctly, we dismissed the case, and we fired the individual.”

Sini and Tierney also sparred over each other’s independence from the influence of major political parties and defense lawyers.

Sini ridiculed Tierney as a “casino lawyer” for serving as a lawyer for Suffolk OTB, where political protection in employment is common, as it is with betting agencies across the country.

“Your whole campaign is bankrolled by political party leaders,” Sini told Tierney. “You currently have a political defense job at OTB, you are a casino lawyer … We are the law enforcement candidate.”

Tierney called Sini a creation of Suffolk Democratic politicians and said he was the “hand-picked” candidate from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for district attorney.

Bellone nominated Sini as county commissioner in 2015 and called on him to reform the department after former department head James Burke was arrested on federal charges of beating a suspect and orchestrating coverage throughout the department.

“The same solitaire that told us that Tom Spota and Jimmy Burke were the greatest law enforcement officers in Suffolk County – it was the same people who turned around and handed him [Sini] his views, “Tierney argued.

“Every single job he’s gotten in Suffolk County has been handed to him,” Tierney said.

Sini said Bellone, after deciding to remove Burke, “asked me to step up and serve as police commissioner, and I’m proud of that.”

Sini continued: “And you can probably criticize Mr Bellone for the selection process. But you can not deny what happened next … We did a good job with the police department. It’s not perfect. We did not have a perfect record. But we achieved a lot. “

In response to a question about the unsolved Gilgo Beach murders, Sini also agreed with Tierney that the 911 tape from the murder victim Shannan Gilbert should be released to the public, despite his opposition to the release when he served as Suffolk County Police Commissioner.


State guarantee form

Tim Sini, Democrat: “We opposed this law … We fought hard against this law, and we will continue to fight hard against this law to make it better for public safety.”

Ray Tierney, Republican and Conservative Party candidate: “It was your party you should have been stronger.”

Gilgo Beach murder

On whether the Suffolk Police Department should release a recording of Shannan Gilbert’s 911 call:

Sini: “I would support the release of the Gilgo call at this point, I understand why the police department, including me, previously decided not to do so. But at this point, I would actually support the release.”

Tierney: “I think perception is reality. So, … you need to be more open and transparent internally regarding that matter.”

Candidates’ political connections

Sini: Your entire campaign is bankrolled by political party leaders – you currently have a political patron job at [Suffolk Off Track Betting Corp.] You are a casino lawyer and you take money from defense lawyers that you are going to deal with directly in the form of negotiations. We do not take money from political leaders,… and we do not take money from defense lawyers. We are the law enforcement candidate. “

Tierney: “I prosecuted political leaders of the Republican, Conservative and Democratic Party, and I persecuted them. I got them to return the money they stole from taxpayers. Ed Walsh, the former leader of the Conservative Party, the party I is run under, I judged him; he has a repayment of over half a million dollars, which he stole from the taxpayers. So that’s my record. And that’s what I will continue to do. “

Prepared by Scott Eidler


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