The Putnam Examiner

Putnam Chief ADA Fonseca to Step Down

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Joseph Fonseca sworn in as chief ADA in Jan. 2016.

Putnam County District Attorney Bob Tendy’s second-in-command is stepping down.

Chief assistant district attorney Joseph Fonseca, who came on board when Tendy started his first term in 2016, is resigning from his position on June 9 and returning to private practice. He owned a law firm that has been run by his son since he took the public sector job 17 months ago.

Fonseca, who earns more than $130,000 annually, is a Carmel resident and longtime practicing attorney in the area. He was formally part of the New York State Police.

He was a critical part of Tendy’s campaign that knocked off former district attorney Adam Levy in a Republican primary and then again in the general election in 2015.

“He’s got a great resume and he was very helpful to me in the campaign,” Tendy said. “He was extremely helpful to me as a chief assistant (district attorney).”

Fonseca, in an email, said he was proud of the time he spent in the DA’s office and looking forward to returning to private practice.

“During that period, we recruited new hires, created policies and procedures, built a strong team to serve the people of Putnam, and strengthened relationships with law enforcement agencies within the county,” Fonseca said.

Tendy echoed those words, stating Fonseca was instrumental in getting the office “up and running” and wished him well going forward.

“We worked together very well,” Tendy said. “Joe’s not the type of guy who’s going to cling to a government job just because it’s there. He’s a professional.”

When Tendy first approached Fonseca, who he has known for two decades, Fonseca was “extraordinarily flattered and humbled,” but was hesitant to accept. Having his own law firm with a staff, including his son who is an attorney, Fonseca didn’t think it was plausible.

“We had a very good practice, it was a tough thing to really think through,” Fonseca said in a January 2016 interview. “But (Tendy) kept after me.”

Tendy said there is no rush to appoint a new chief ADA and all options would be weighed. Regardless, there won’t be any lapse in coverage of cases, he stressed.

He said he’d be open to selecting someone that lives outside of Putnam County. When Levy appointed Chana Krauss, a Westchester County resident, chief ADA during his tenure, the county law department signaled it was OK, Tendy referenced.

Krauss is currently first assistant district attorney under a Tendy run office.

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