By Reuven Blau (NY Daily News)
August 13, 2014
The state's top lawman has empaneled a grand jury to probe possible criminal charges against former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and some of his office staff, the Daily News has learned.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has convened the grand jury in Brooklyn Supreme Court, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
The Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office is also investigating, after a bombshell city report found that more than $200,000 seized from criminals may have been used to pay longtime Hynes media consultant Mortimer Matz, 90, for political work.
The Department of Investigation report cited emails allegedly showing that Matz, a former DA employee who began working for Hynes in 2003, focused on his boss’ reelection bid last year.
The 27-page report, drawing on information culled from 6,000 emails — including one in which Hynes called opponent Kenneth Thompson a “lowlife” — was forwarded to the AG’s office, according to sources. Thompson beat Hynes in the November election and is now DA.
Hynes could face theft charges on allegations of misappropriating public funds.
Asked about the grand jury, Schneiderman spokeswoman Melissa Grace declined comment.
Authorities are also looking into the possible misuse of city cars, according to records The News obtained.
Matz, who lives on the Upper East Side, was driven into Brooklyn for years by a taxpayer-funded investigator in a city car, according to a source.
Asked for a complete listing of Brooklyn DA vehicles, including the one used by Matz and other Hynes underlings, the prosecutor’s office responded with a partial roster.
“Several pages of records which have similar listings of agency cars are being withheld, because the documents at issue are the subject of an open and ongoing criminal investigation,” the Brooklyn DA’s office said in response to the Freedom of Information Law request.
As for the broader criminal investigation, sources close to Hynes contend most of Matz’s emails were sent out on his own time in the early-morning hours. Matz defenders argue he was a key part of the press office who regularly attended news conferences.
Another part of the DOI report concerned Barry Kamins — the top jurist in Brooklyn until his promotion to a statewide job late last year — who offered near-daily advice to Hynes about the campaign and related issues, emails showed.