Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Ex-Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes Accused of Using Money From Criminals to Pay Political Consultant: DOI

Former longtime Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes is accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars seized from criminal suspects to pay for a political consultant, according to a report by the city’s Department of Investigation.

The DOI report alleges Hynes may have engaged in crimes of official misconduct and larceny.

Hynes is also accused of using his office computer to send hundreds of campaign-related emails in the recent bitter campaign he lost to current Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

The report also alleges that criminal court Judge Barry Kamins may have violated judicial ethics by actively advising Hynes in his campaign, including exchanging more than 300 emails with Hynes during the recent campaign. 

The report detailing Hynes' alleged misuse of asset forfeiture funds has been referred to the state attorney general’s office for possible criminal investigation, sources familiar with the case tell NBC 4 New York.

Consultant Mortimer Matz billed $2,682 per week to the Kings County District Attorney’s office, the report said. Matz’s firm was paid more than $1.1 million out of state asset forfeiture funds from 2003 through 2013, the DOI report alleges.

Hynes declined comment except to say, "I will respond in the proper form." A call to his one-time campaign manager was not returned.

The DOI report said Hynes “extensively used” his office email “for purposes relating to his re-election campaign." DOI said Hynes was using his office computer to communicate with political consultants, and with Matz.

Matz, a fixture at Hynes' official news conferences, declined to comment on the report.

DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi said the “report speaks for itself and we will have no further comment.”

The report details emails like one dated Oct. 15, 2012 where Hynes discusses the “June Primary" and one on Feb. 6, 2013 in which Hynes allegedly received an email discussing video opportunities for “Hynes Team!!! Victory."

The DOI report points out that it is a violation of the city charter to use city resources for any non-city purpose.

As for Kamins, the DOI report alleges the judge engaged in political activity while he was a sitting judge and used his office to try to advance Hynes’ political goals. Part of that effort included using his connections to the New York Law Journal to try to obtain positive media coverage for Hynes, the report alleges.

Rules of the chief administrative judge provide that judges should not engage in political activity.

A court spokesman said Kamins has been "relieved of all of his administrative duties both as overseeing policy and planning and in overseeing New York City's criminal courts."

Kamins is currently on annual leave, the spokesman said. 

Kamins' attorney Paul Shectman did not immediately return phone calls.

-Andrew Siff contributed to this report

Below: Read the Department of Investigation's report 

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