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William Ferris seeks GOP nod for Suffolk district attorney

Attorney William Ferris of Islandia, speaks to the

Attorney William Ferris of Islandia, speaks to the media at Riverhead Town Court on Sept. 2, 2008. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Former Suffolk Assistant District Attorney William Ferris has become the second announced Republican candidate for county district attorney.

Ferris was one of seven potential contenders, including State Supreme Court Justice Andrew Crecca, who interviewed Monday with Suffolk GOP leaders.

Town and county GOP leaders, anticipating the DA’s job will be open this fall, met for five hours with potential candidates. The party for the last 12 years had cross-endorsed Democratic incumbent Thomas Spota.

Anthony Pancella, county GOP vice chairman, presided at the interviews. He did not return calls for comment.

Spota, 75, has yet to disclose his re-election plans.

Federal investigators are probing whether Spota and one of his chief assistants took part in a cover-up of an assault on a man who stole a duffel bag from the SUV of former Suffolk police chief of department James Burke, according to sources close to the probe. Burke was convicted and jailed on federal charges.

Spota has not been charged with a crime and says he has done nothing wrong.

Ferris, now in private practice, announced his candidacy in an email Saturday. He said he has the credentials to “restore integrity and performance” to DA’s office, citing his past presidency of the county bar association, his 23 years as a Suffolk prosecutor and his U.S. Navy service in Vietnam and later as a reservist.

After his party interview, Ferris, 70 of Southold, said he wants to run because he “hates to see the district attorney’s office under siege … and it needs a new direction.” Ferris said he would create a cybercrime unit, and said prosecutors have to do a better job working with parents, the community and victims to help fight gang and drug crime.

“Parents are scared and should be,” Ferris said.

Ferris interviewed as a candidate four years ago but decided against a primary when GOP leaders decided to back Spota

The only other announced Republican interview Monday was Ray Perini, 69, a defense attorney from Huntington, who four years ago ran an unsuccessful primary against Spota.

Perini has $55,000 left from that campaign and said he raised nearly $40,000 in his first fundraiser last week.

Sources say party leaders also interviewed Crecca, who would have to step down immediately from his $193,000-a- year judgeship if he were to become a candidate. Crecca, who has seven years left on his court term, declined to comment.

GOP officials interviewed Patrick O’Connell, a Conservative Party member and law partner of Suffolk Conservative chairman Frank Tinari; Suffolk homicide prosecutor Robert Biancavilla; former Suffolk prosecutor John Halverson; and Edward Friedland, Islip planning board chairman.

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