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New York Newsday : B'klyn DA: Article was a smear

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Posted by GET NY on 17:11:07 12/17/04

B'klyn DA: Article was a smear

New York Newsday


November 22, 2004

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is threatening to sue Harper's magazine over a story accusing the veteran prosecutor of illegally listing a government office as his voting address in 1996.

In the magazine's December issue, reporter Christopher Ketcham accuses Hynes of "selective prosecution" in the case of Brooklyn lawyer John O'Hara, whom Hynes successfully tried in 1996 for using a sham voting address.

In the course of his reporting, Ketcham found a signed voter registration card showing Hynes' address as 210 Joralemon St., which is the Brooklyn Municipal Building. Hynes "turned out to be guilty of almost the same crime" as O'Hara, Ketcham wrote.

"If Harper's refuses to retract this story and publish the real facts, that gives me no recourse other than to pursue a suit for libel," Hynes said through his spokesman Jerry Schmetterer.

Hynes's top deputy Gino Amoroso penned a Nov. 18 letter to Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, saying that the story was "false and defamatory, and its improper and reckless publication has severely damaged D.A. Hynes, both personally and professionally."

The magazine "stands completely by the story," said spokeswoman Giulia Melucci.

Schmetterer said Hynes committed no illegal act and the card was filed "absolutely without his knowledge" by the Board of Elections after the board was notified Hynes had filled out a postal change-of-address form.

Attempts to contact a board spokesman yesterday were unsuccessful.

At the time the card was filed, Hynes was in residential limbo, according to Schmetterer.

He'd moved out of his Flatbush home but hadn't yet closed on his Bay Ridge co-op and "was having his mail forwarded to the office, which triggered the board to change his registration," Schmetterer said.

When asked whether Hynes was staying at another family co-op in Breezy Point in Queens during that period, Schmetterer replied, "He might have been there for some of time, which was perfectly legal as long as he intended to return to Brooklyn."

O'Hara, who was convicted and sentenced to 5 years' probation and 1,500 hours of community service, was the first New Yorker found guilty under the obscure "illegal voting" statute since Susan B. Anthony in 1873.

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