The White Plains Examiner

Defense Attorney, Ex-Prosecutor Seeks Democratic Nod for D.A.

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Attorney George Fufidio is seeking the Democratic endorsement for Westchester County District Attorney. Arthur Cusano photo
Attorney George Fufidio is seeking the Democratic endorsement for Westchester County District Attorney. Arthur Cusano photo

The Republican primary race for Westchester County district attorney is in full swing with two candidates vying for the GOP nomination, but so far just one Democrat has formally announced his intent.

Former Westchester Assistant D.A. George Fufidio said he has opened a campaign committee with the Board of Elections seeking the Democrats’ nomination and has already held a fundraiser.

“I’ve done prosecution work for a significant period of time and defense work,” said Fufidio, an Eastchester resident. “I’ve been involved in the criminal justice system here in Westchester County and the metropolitan New York area for close to 34 years. I know what works well in the system and what we can do better.”

Fufidio, 58, began as an assistant D.A in 1982 under Carl Vergari until 1988. He held several positions in that office, eventually becoming the deputy chief of the Homicide and Special Investigations Bureau.

Fufidio said he is qualified since he not only served as an assistant but also as a defense attorney for the firm he co-founded, Mancuso, Rubin and Fufidio. He said he enjoyed his work in the D.A.’s office more than any other.

“The best job I ever had was the six years I worked for Carl Vergari,” Fufidio said. “It’s a great place to work and you do good work, you help people and you keep the community safe. I think Janet (DiFiore) did a wonderful job and I’d like to continue the work she started, which continued the work Carl started many years ago.”

Fufidio said he wants to see the age of criminal responsibility raised from 16 to 18, a change that is championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York is currently the only state that still allows 16-year-olds to be charged as adults for lesser crimes.

“I really feel that 16- and 17-year-olds who commit minor petty offenses shouldn’t be treated as adults, which they are right now,” he said. “They would better be served by going through the family courts where there are many more resources to help young people get back on track.”

He supports the New York State Bar Association’s move to expand criminal discovery – the range of evidence that a defendant has access to prior to their trial.

“They don’t make available to the defense statements or testimony of witnesses early in the proceedings,” he said. “A lot of legal commentators have said that criminal trials in New York are a trial by ambush.”

Fufidio wants expansion of drug courts, which offer convicted criminals suffering from substance abuse alternative rehabilitation programs. Those who complete the drug court program are able to get proper treatment, are less likely to commit additional crimes and often find employment.

“I’ve found in my own practice that many of my clients are helped by it,” Fufidio said. “It’s a stringent two years that they are in these courts where they have to stay in treatment and are monitored very closely by the judge, and if they slip up there are consequences.”

Fufidio said a key part of tackling issues like gang violence and illegal guns and growing epidemics such as heroin sales and identity theft is better coordinating Westchester’s fragmented law enforcement system, where almost every town has its own police department and justice court.

“There are a lot of resources to battle crime but you need someone to coordinate it, and that’s an important part of what the district attorney’s office does and continues to do,” he said.

Fufidio said high profile cases of police brutality or excessive violence have made some residents wary of law enforcement, and he vowed that he would show all residents the same respect.

“We need to get the respect of the community back,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s all warranted, but I read the newspapers, I watch what’s going on across the country. All citizens of Westchester County need to know that the district attorney is treating everyone equally, that everyone is measured by the same rule of law, regardless of station in life.”

Former prosecutors Bruce Bendish and Mitch Benson announced their candidacies on the Republican side earlier this winter.


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