The Price of Loyalty to Hynes is Carried by Taxpayers

Three of Hynes’ top Brooklyn DA executives are retiring with combined payments for unused vacation and sick leave approaching $900,00 according to a reliable source. In addition to Michael Vecchione, whose package of approximately $230,000 $286,000, the other beneficiaries are John O’Mara and Dino Amoroso. Ann Swern opted out and is hoping to stay on with the Thompson administration. She was seen attending one of the meet and greets that Thompson hosted at his law offices. These payments have to be approved. I will concede that Vechhione has a reputation for being there every day and he may have accrued more than a year of unused vacation and sick time. I do not have any idea how valid these payouts are for the other two. As always, the benefits of loyalty to Hynes are distributed very unevenly. The ADAs who do the grunt work are lucky to get cost of living increases, but his top executives get pay very close to the maximum earned by Hynes himself.

Vecchione had a going away party at 4:00 on Thursday the 12th. In attendance, among others were Josh Hanashek and Monique Ferrel, the unlucky Chief Counsel of the Rackets Division who did the last Hynes-era appearance in the Kellner case. She failed to turn over some materials ordered by the judge at the previous appearance. I hear that she has since been working at responding to some of those requests by contacting others in the office of the DA.

Meanwhile, in spite of Hynes’ attempts to sabotage transition morale, I hear staff at the DA’s office are upbeat about the new era starting in January. Of course there is also nervousness about who will rise and fall and how things will work for individual ADAs. But, there is a general feeling that the office will have higher standards of integrity and professionalism. Thompson bolstered morale with a set of meet-and-greets he hosted at his office. Almost all of the ADAs attended. He had scheduled for 300 attendees over four sessions but had to expand to cover approximately 480  ADAs who RSVP’d.

Update: Sunday Dec 15- Accrued time is only for vacation. Per comment by “Disgusted” junior staff are not allowed to accrue vacation time. Until about five years ago, this policy was pretty strictly applied (except for the favored few). In recent years, enforcement of the rule has been laxer.

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23 thoughts on “The Price of Loyalty to Hynes is Carried by Taxpayers

  1. Am I incorrect in believing that a lump sum of 900k for unused vacation and sick days, is taxed fully in the year received, as earned income? Unless income averaging is still employed, (but that may be an anachronism and reveal my age). In any case, the IRS is going to be a large recipient of these payouts. Any accountants here? Can it be amortized or some such thing??? (yes, I’m ignorant, but I think it works the same as severance).????

  2. Just an FYI- ADA’s do not get payouts for sick leave. They have unlimited sick leave and do not accrue sick leave that they are paid for unlike other city employees. They also do not get paid for unused personal days. You either use them in the year accrued or lose them. That means that all of the time that they are seeking pay for is vacation time. The bigger issie is whether or not they are getting paid for time at the rate their salary was when the time was accrued or are they getting paid at their current salary rate- a huge difference in payout. What vexes many ADA’s is that they were told that they had to use their vacation time and were not supposed to accrue more than two weeks time, yet it appears that SOME were allowed to accrue ridiculous amounts of time thereby wreaking havoc on the budget of the incoming DA.

      • You’re welcome. I just want to be clear. ADA’s are allowed to accrue vacation time- the stated policy however is no more than two weeks. Is this policy strictly enforced- it depends upon whom you are. At the time of my departure, I had certainly accrued more than two weeks vacation. More like six or so weeks. However, I was a boss and while I was asked to use my time, I was not really pressured to do so. Every now and then assistants were reminded of the edict that they couldn’t carry over more than two weeks. From what I hear, they are still reminded of this policy and many think it unfair that some were allowed to accrue so much time. Can you imagine how many ADA’s will not be hired now because of these cash outs? You’re only talking about three higher ups. Lets say 20-50 get the boot and each are similarly situated as Mike et al. This is a disaster for the incoming administration. No one should have been allowed to accumulate $230,000 in vacation time!! That’s just ridiculous!!

  3. There may be other, bigger payouts. Because of limitations on municipal liability for federal constitutional-rights suits, NYC is not automatically liable for constitutional violations by ADA’s or those working for/with them unless a pattern or policy of condoning or overlooking violations can be shown — as Jabbar Collins is attempting to do. Nevertheless, I would expect that employees of the KCDA’s office sued in their individual capacities are entitled to be defended by the City’s lawyers in civil suits arising from their official duties, and to indemnification for damages if they lose. Perhaps a former or present ADA can confirm or deny that. If so, that’s potentially a large exposure; no one can know how large until more closets are opened and the skeletons counted.

    As a rule, when evidence of wrongdoing is concealed, the statute of limitations doesn’t run until the victim could be expected to discover it. What if there had been a hundred wrongful convictions and prison sentences in the last ten years that depended on incriminating evidence wrongfully procured by the DA’s office or exculpatory evidence wrongfully suppressed, and that civil suits for those convictions would cost the city an average of ten million each, not unreasonable compensation for years in prison. That would be a billion dollar exposure.

    All of this is pure speculation, but if I were the U.S. Attorney, I might have second thoughts about going in with guns blazing if the collateral consequences of a few well-deserved convictions might put a crushing burden on the city. Just as a child molester almost never has a single victim, neither does a corrupt prosecutor. When justice has not been “an ever-flowing stream,” suddenly breaching the dam can be hazardous

    • Under the law, prosecutors have qualified immunity in cases such as this and the city normally represents the Assistant in any lawsuit. I say normally because they are not necessarily required to. Just like the City normally represents most cops, there are a few seriously bad cops that the city will not represent. Ive never heard of them refusing to represent a prosecutor but in theory they could. Its VERY hard to prove malicious prosecution against a prosecutor. Regardless of whether the City chooses to represent a prosecutor or cop, they are still sued under the theory of respondeat superior. As to the statute of limitations, defendants can sue for malicious prosecution in Federal Court three years from the dismissal of their cases.

    • Oh, I forgot to add that I seriously doubt that the US Attorneys Office will do anything. Especially if their action is dependent upon alleged whistleblower Barbara Burke. If you read between the lines of the NY Times article about her allegedly tampering with e-mails between the Hynes and Wachtler, she is a “special case”…allegedly. I also believe that the Feds have come to find out the very same thing and hence, no charges if they have to rely upon her word to bring a case. I’ve known this for quite some time and hate that YL seems to rely so much upon what Burke has to say. I don’t know the woman personally but I’ve heard nothing good about her and the NY Times article seemed to point to their being some issues there. When I heard that she was allegedly behind these emails that were tampered with, it was shocking, but believable given what I had heard.

      • The NY Times was merely reporting the claim of the DA that the leaked email from Sol Wachtler to Joe Hynes was hacked. Thus far, in spite of all the brave talk there has been no special prosecutor. If Wachtler was really libelled he would have sued to make his case. He does after all still want a Presidential pardon and this allegation hurts his chances. Wachtler is wealthy and could afford a lawsuit even if Barbara Burke was judgment-proof.

        Ms. Burke’s allegation seem likely to be true and I suspect that we will get further confirmation in the coming months.

        • YL-I’m speaking of their statements about her behavior and her prior whistleblowing case. All I’m saying, and I always wanted to mention this to you is that I would be careful when it comes to accepting her claims.

          • Obviously, I cannot verify all her claims. However, I can with confidence say that I know some of her claims to have been accurate. I am not aware of any evidence that she hacked any KCDA accounts. I have good reason to believe she legitimately obtained and shared emails without in any way violating the law or the employment policies of KCDA.

        • I’m not sure anyone is claiming that she did not legitimately come into possession of those e-mails. I think they know she legitimately came into possession of the e-mails. The claim is that she wrongfully changed those e-mails to make it look as though a racist and offensive term was used by Wachtler in an e-mail to Hynes where Hynes said nothing in response. As such, making it appear that the DA sat in silence and said nothing. That she then transmitted said e-mail. I believe that is the actual claim.

          • The DA has at various times said different things. The latest version is that she hacked into some system (presumably, KCDA). If the only claim is that she fraudulently forged an email message from Wachtler to Hynes, then Wachtler has a doozy of a defamation suit. Obviously, Wachtler knows his options, has the money to exercise them and has had enough time to exercise them.

            As for Hynes not replying, the message thread, as shared on Buzzfeed before it was deleted, ended with Wachtler’s message with the offensive term. There was no explicit claim that there was or wasn’t a response. Even if she had a reply which showed a Hynes response that made Hynes look good, that omission would not have been cricket but would also not have been criminal. However, that whole line is moot because Hynes is claiming that the message is a fraud and was never sent.

            Ultimately, Wachtler can settle the issue and clear his reputation by suing or by letting some independent auditor have access to his email account.

            I am pretty sure that Hynes is blowing smoke when he talks of getting an independent prosecutor to look at hacking. Again, if he had the goods it would have happened by now.

      • Man, you can’t label someone a ‘whistleblower’ just because they got canned. “Whistleblower” is not a synonym for “fired by an office I despise.” You have to identify a policy of wrongdoing that the subject brought to light. Are you seriously saying that you don’t know?

        • Conway, we will agree to disagree. You know perfectly well that someone can know something and not be free to reveal it for one reason on another, and yet it can be true. I hope that is something you are able to do in your practice of law for your sake and for the sake of your clients. Thus far my blog has not been shown to be wrong and has been confirmed right on many occasions. And no, Conway, just because you ridicule me, you won’t make me spill the beans and violate commitments to sources.

          As you may know, Hynes is still trying to root out and penalize folks in his office for talking to outsiders like me. Please, also, stop repeating yourself and forcing me to delete your comments for trolling. You are an obnoxious, supercilious, condescending creature. But if you can at least not repeat yourself and offer some value-add to the conversation, your comments will continue to be approved.

  4. This isn’t about your sources. In order to be a whistleblower the subject has to take a previously hidden harmful policy and expose it to the public. If you can’t simply identify the odious policy that Barbara had exposed to the public then you are mislabeling her.

    And don’t call me names Lopin. I am not calling you names.

    • Actually, a whistle blower can earn that title by giving information to enforcement authorities or other potential plaintiffs, even before the information becomes public or even if it never becomes public. The question is whether you wish to believe my claim. Lets agree to disagree, but I am confident that in dues course you will see my point based on info that will come out in public.

      • Fair enough. Your position then is that Barbara has given “information to enforcement authorities or other potential plaintiffs.” That is a bet I am willing to take. Because, no, I do not believe that she was a whistleblower. I just think that she was someone that Dino and Diane Malone treated badly and beat up. I will give you 2 to 1. When Barbara’s testimony or threatened testimony results in either a judgment or a conviction, I will pay double whatever you put up here. You have my personal email. Youre a liar.

        • Conway, my, my. You are down to calling me a liar and setting conditions. Conway, if my blog aggravates you so much, stop reading it and stop commenting. As you may know, if you are really connected to the doings and buzz at KCDA, I am widely read there by line staff and by the execs and I aggravate Joe Hynes, Henna, Rhonnie and others precisely because I do get my facts right. It is well known around KCDA that Joe Hynes is tearing his hair out trying to figure out the pathways by which information from KCDA ended up outside.

          As for your bet, keep your money. Meeting the terms for me to collect might require sharing information that would require me to violate confidences. Rest assured, that by June 30th more of the misdeed of KCDA’s management will be revealed and some of them will have legal teeth. If you remind me of this promise after June 30th I will be glad to point to some examples. However, even then I will not state what if anything I know if it violates any of my promises to sources. Meanwhile ask around and you will learn of some KCDA efforts to plug the leaks that exposed improper conduct.

        • Yeah, I guess this was an overreach. I just don’t know any other way to say that you don’t believe what you write. As far as the blog is concerned. I think you hurt innocents here. But I don’t count the Hynes as one of them.

          The market for this blog was ripe when I first set foot in the door of that place. Because Hynes’ office was already a place where the top tier were able to run roughshod over the lower and where the lower sold out each other in desperation. This sickness infected everything there.

          I only know that this blog exists BECAUSE it is so popular among my former colleagues. And it is popular because it serves a good purpose by giving line assistants a place to rally around. I don’t know if that was your original intention, but I can tell you that that was the result. And I am thankful. On the level, your blog doesn’t aggravate me at all. It was something sorely needed for a long time.

          But it has also put a powerful weapon in your hands. And I’ve tried to intervene (however pathetically) where I’ve felt that that weapon had been wielded recklessly. For instance, you have beat up on Rhonnie Jaus, Mary Hughes, and Miss Gregory repeatedly. People who I believe did their best to shield the weak from the artificial inequities of that place. But you never talk about Amy Feinstein, who was running this entire show from the top. I don’t know why that is.

          I’ve already gone on too long. I just wanted to clarify where I stand.

  5. And I was friendly with Barbara and think she was mistreated. So this isn’t personal between me and her.

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