The Putnam Examiner

Letter of Leniency Written for Leibell Comes Under Question in DA’s Race

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He’s been officially out of Putnam politics since 2010 and has gone to and come out of prison since then, but the name Vincent Leibell can still elicit a shiver of shame only reserved for some of New York’s most infamous political kingpins.

The former New York State senator’s name has recently popped up in the race for Putnam County District Attorney, in which a past letter of support for Leibell written by candidate Bob Tendy is under scrutiny. The 2011 letter written by Tendy, who is the Putnam Valley Supervisor, requested leniency for the longtime political fixture, before Leibell’s federal prison sentence was determined after he pled guilty to federal charges.

The two-page letter written on Town of Putnam Valley letterhead detailed how Leibell contributed to the town during Tendy’s tenure, describing Leibell as the “most energetic, decent, and caring political representative I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.” Tendy noted how Leibell got the town funding for a town hall addition, repaired and upgraded a long neglected veterans’ monument, and helped orchestrate the prosecution of a resident who was causing a major environmental issue. As Tendy pointed out in the letter, “Senator Leibell worked, and he worked quickly.”

Tendy also wrote at the time “I don’t know anything about Senator Leibell’s case” and considered Leibell to be a “mentor to me in the very best sense of the word.”

“If Senator Leibell made a mistake, I know he is the kind of person who is agonizing over it because he let people down–not because it will affect him,” the letter concludes. “No good would be served by Senator Leibell being incarcerated. This is my opinion. Other may differ, but they are wrong.”

In an interview, Tendy didn’t defend penning the note to United States District Judge Eginton, but candidly admitted, “it was a dumb thing to do.”

Tendy accuses Leibell and his former chief of staff Ray Maguire of intentionally deceiving him. He said the three men met on three separate occasions; before an investigation was made public, when an investigation was ongoing and the final time when Leibell was indicted. The third time, Leibell and Maguire asked Tendy to write a letter of leniency.

“I was fooled by them,” Tendy said. “It was a stupid thing to do.”

“I’ve met with indicted criminals probably close to 1,000 times,” Tendy went on to say. “I should’ve known, I should’ve known and what really pisses me off the most and makes me the most angry about this is because I should’ve seen it coming and I didn’t.”

Described as the most popular man in the county prior to any known investigation, Tendy said Leibell did do an exemplary job, which made it even more shocking when news broke of his misdeeds.

On top of writing the letter at all, Tendy agrees the letter shouldn’t have been written on Town of Putnam Valley letterhead, calling it a “thoughtless thing to do.”

Details about the three conversations are sparse because Tendy believes he would be violating attorney-client privilege if he divulged information about what was discussed, even though Tendy didn’t do any paid legal work for them. But because they talked about legalities, Tendy said it matters to him not to disclose what was conferred.

Although the revelations aren’t anything new, Tendy also pointed out that incumbent District Attorney Adam Levy is connected to Leibell and Maguire. Levy, Tendy asserts, made a $75,000 payment to a consulting firm, WPD Concepts, that was run by Maguire, to ensure no one ran against Levy in 2008 and also made sizable contributions to Leibell’s campaign funds.

According to a Nov. 7, 2013 Journal News article, Levy made a $25,000 payment, a $16,000 payment, another $16,000 payment, and a $18,000 payment in 2007 to WPD Concepts. Also, according to The Journal News article, Levy contributed $8,500 to Leibell’s Senate campaign in 2006 and in 2010, Levy and his wife Lori donated a combined $7,500.

“Yeah, I was lied to and I fell for it, my fault, sorry it’s a stupid thing to do,” Tendy said referring to the letter. “But I never gave any of these guys money to use as political muscle.”

Levy has yet to officially announce his intention to seek reelection, but all signs point to him gearing up for a third run. A committee called Citizens for Adam Levy is now active, according to the New York State Board of Elections, which was registered on Feb. 9 of this year. A Cold Spring resident, Carol Powell, is listed as the committee’s treasurer.

A spokeswoman for Levy did not have any comment as of Monday afternoon before press time.

Tendy disagreed that this letter should make potential voters question his judgment, because everyone including district attorneys and lawyers make mistakes. He also said, “This is nothing on the level of the mistakes Mr. Levy have done.”

When asked if he’s in touch with Leibell anymore, Tendy’s response was short and swift.

“Hell no,” he said. “After I saw him, I crossed the street.”

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