By Josh Saul (NY Post)
November 11, 2013
In a stunning move that reveals the turmoil inside lame-duck Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes’ office, controversial rackets chief Michael Vecchione kicked two veteran assistant district attorneys out of his bureau Friday for demanding he dismiss an evidence-challenged extortion case involving the Orthodox Jewish community, The Post has learned.
Prosecutors Joseph Alexis and Nicholas Batsidis told Vecchione their case against Sam Kellner, a Hasidic Jew accused of paying a young man to make up sex-abuse claims against a Brooklyn cantor, had to be dismissed because of a lack of evidence, a law-enforcement source said.
Vecchione — who in 2010 saw a high-profile murder conviction overturned amid allegations he withheld evidence — told the men to speak with Hynes or his first ADA, Amy Feinstein, before ordering them, “Get out,” the source said.
When Alexis and Batsidis went to Feinstein, she immediately told them they were off the case and reassigned both men to the trials bureau.
“Dismissal is the only decision that makes sense,” the law-enforcement source said. “They want to leave it for the new administration to dismiss.”
Hynes lost his re-election bid by a landslide to former federal prosecutor Ken Thompson, who called the Kellner prosecution a “botched case” during the campaign.
DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said, “Vecchione believes there’s a case here and that it shouldn’t be dismissed,” but declined to comment on personnel matters.
“In the dying days of the Hynes administration, Vecchione has discarded the normal standards that govern prosecutions,” said Kellner’s attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui, who confirmed that the two ADAs had been taken off the case.
Hynes has been criticized over the past few years for going soft on sexual-abuse prosecutions against Orthodox Jews.