Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, the county district attorney-elect, said he plans to reach out to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo soon to discuss the possibility of appointing him early after Friday’s official retirement of District Attorney Thomas Spota, who is fighting federal criminal charges.
Sini, who normally would take office Jan. 1, said he plans to reach out to Cuomo’s office by early next week. He said he hopes to talk to Cuomo about the option of an early appointment “to insure the wheels of justice operate in an effective way.”
Spota and Christopher McPartland, who runs the district attorney’s political corruption unit, were indicted last month on federal charges that they were involved in a cover-up of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of a suspect in 2012. They have pleaded not guilty.
Under state law, the governor can appoint a district attorney when a vacancy occurs.
“This is something of an unprecedented circumstance and there are multiple considerations at play,” Sini said. “I’m merely asking for a discussion to be had.”
Sini, who beat Republican defense attorney Ray Perini on Tuesday, said early action is needed because the current “leadership team is compromised,” and that could have an impact on ongoing operations.
“It is important that the staff have leadership; the longer I’m not in there the more damage can happen,” said Sini.
Sini said that in Sini said he could not say exactly how soon he would be ready to officially take over and in the meantime, he is working to set up a transition team to prepare for taking office whether or not Cuomo appoints him early.
While he would not disclose the names of possible transition team members or aides, Sini on election night said John Barry, his deputy police commissioner, “would play an integral role in reforming the district attorney’s office.” Sini would not be more specific Friday.
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, called Sini’s request to Cuomo’s office, “appropriate since the voters have already spoken and it’s beneficial to have the elected person in charge as opposed to a caretaker.”
Noel DiGerolamo, president of the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association, said the police department would run fine should Sini leave early. Chief of Department Stuart Cameron would “be able to properly manage for whatever period of time it takes to determine who the next commissioner will be,” DiGerolamo said.
However, Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the minority leader, said it’s better that Sini “stay where he is. The person in charge of the district attorney’s office is capable and competent and it gives the county executive the chance to start looking for a new police commissioner, which is important.”
Legislative Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said, “I wouldn’t be opposed to it now that it’s official Spota’s leaving.” Sini’s appointment as district attorney would, “help the integrity of the office and keep things moving along.”
Legis. Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), a former detective and frequent police critic, said, “I find myself in the weird position of agreeing with District attorney-elect Sini. It’s a clean slate. I’ll be watching him closely to make sure justice is handed out fairly, evenly and no longer used for political witch hunts. I wish him well.”
Sini said he is raising the issue on his own with Cuomo and that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is not involved in his request.
“As I have said for years, the District Attorney’s Office is compromised and I would fully support any action required to install new leadership at the head of that office,” Bellone said
The district attorney earns $194,243 a year, and the salary will rise to $203,245 next year. Sini as police commissioner earns $166,000 a year.With Andrew Smith