Suffolk District Attorney-elect Timothy Sini announced a 13-member transition team Tuesday that he said will help him restore integrity to the office and put his priorities into action.
The team is co-chaired by David Kelley, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, and Suffolk Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers.
Sini, now the police commissioner, takes over an office recently vacated by Thomas Spota, who resigned as DA after he was indicted on federal obstruction of justice charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Sini said his team’s initial contact with Acting District Attorney Emily Constant has been positive and he’s “optimistic” it will stay that way.
Besides Kelley, who was Sini’s campaign chairman, and Meyers, the team also includes Evelyn Rodriguez of Brentwood, the mother of murder victim Kayla Cuevas, 16, who was beaten to death last year. Authorities say she was killed by members of the MS-13 street gang.
“She’s someone who’s going to bring a very unique perspective,” Sini said.
Others on the team include:
— Leslie Anderson, who now investigates unethical attorneys for the New York State Grievance Committee of the Appellate Division Second Department. Before that, she ran the Suffolk district attorney’s office’s since-disbanded gang unit.
— Suffolk First Deputy Police Commissioner John Barry, who Sini said was instrumental in reforming the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.— Connie Corso DeGiovine, former Suffolk County budget director. Sini said she will help him “advocate for the resources I need to keep the county safe.”
— Defense attorney and former Suffolk prosecutor William Ferris of Islandia. He is a former president of the Suffolk County Bar Association and ran for district attorney as a Republican before Ray Perini became Sini’s opponent.
— Jerry Goldfeder, a former special counsel for public integrity at the state attorney general’s office. Sini said he will help ensure politics is kept out of the district attorney’s office.
— Suffolk Undersheriff Steven Kuehhas, who was the East End bureau chief in the district attorney’s office until July 2016.
— Howard Master, senior enforcement counsel for the state attorney general’s office. He has experience in handling public corruption cases, Sini said.
— LIPA Vice Chairman Thomas McAteer Jr., a former Suffolk chief deputy county executive, will advise on negotiating governmental bureaucracy, Sini said.
— Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of Columbia Law School’s Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity. Sini said she will help keep undue influence out of the office. — Defense attorney and former Suffolk prosecutor Tad Scharfenberg of Bohemia, a past president of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association.
Sini said he neither consulted nor informed any political leaders on the team he put together.
There is no promise that anyone on the team will serve in the district attorney’s office starting Jan. 1, but Sini said, “There are people on this list I’d love to have in the office.”
Sini said he is committed to making the office more ethnically diverse, and hoped to continue a new training initiative begun by Spota with the help of the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association.
He also said he would reach out to a variety of advocacy and community groups, particularly those who work with substance abuse.
And Sini said he intended to interview every current employee of the district attorney’s office, in the hope of learning what they think works and what doesn’t. “I will encourage people to be frank,” he said, offering it as their chance to help improve their own workplace.
Sini said anyone interested in working for the office — or offering input to the transition team — could contact the team by email at apply@SCDASini.com.