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Ray Perini questions Tim Sini role in gang case

Republican Suffolk district attorney candidate Ray Perini, left,

Republican Suffolk district attorney candidate Ray Perini, left, is questioning the role Democratic candidate Tim Sini, right, played in a gang prosecution in 2014. Credit: Ed Betz; Howard Schnapp

A former senior federal prosecutor and an attorney for a witness in the case against the Trinitarios gang says Democratic District Attorney Tim Sini played an important role in securing the conviction of its leader.

But Republican Ray Perini, Sini’s opponent in Tuesday’s race for Suffolk County district attorney, accused Sini, a Democrat, of exaggerating his role in the trial in one of his television campaign ads.

Sini’s TV commercial says: “Tim Sini convicted National Leader of ‘Trinitarios’ Gang.”

The ad cites a July 25, 2014 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan that said Sini was one of seven attorneys “in charge of the prosecution” of Leonides Sierra, the former national leader of the Trinatarios.

Sierra’s attorney, Lawrence Schoenbach, of Manhattan, said he doesn’t remember Sini from the trial.

“I never met him, never heard of him, never saw him. I certainly never spoke to him,” said Schoenbach. “No way” did Sini convict Sierra, said Schoenbach, who credited other assistant U.S. attorneys with overseeing the case.

But Jessica Ortiz, a former assistant U.S. Attorney on the Trinitarios case who is in private practice in Manhattan, stated she agreed with Sini’s characterization of his role.

“He was one of the senior prosecutors on the Trinitarios gang case involving the prosecution of its national leader, several of its ring leaders and hundreds of Trinitarios members,” she said of Sini in an emailed response to questions.

Sini handled “one of the most significant witnesses” in the case who provided “important evidence” against Sierra, Ortiz said.

Sam A. Schmidt, a Manhattan-based attorney for the witness Sini handled, called Sini “one of the important pieces of the prosecution of this dangerous gang. He was one of about 5 prosecutors who indeed participated in putting away some very bad guys.”

Sini said the ad is accurate.

“I worked on all aspects of the case, including the murder trial, including the RICO trial, helping to generate evidence,” Sini said. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in Manhattan from March 2010 until August 2014.

But Perini, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor in Suffolk and Brooklyn, said Sini also has taken police and FBI accomplishments as his own. “It’s consistent with him taking credit for other people’s work,” Perini said of Sini’s ad about the Trinitarios case.

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