After campaigning for more than a year when he successfully ran for Putnam County District Attorney in 2015, Robert Tendy will have a much easier go-around this year with no Republican or Democrat challenging him this election cycle.
Barring something highly unusual, Tendy, a Republican, will serve a second term in office starting in 2020 as his name will be the only one to appear on the ballot this November. When he ran the first time, the former Putnam Valley supervisor dethroned Adam Levy, who had served eight years in the DA’s office.
“I want to let everybody know I appreciate their support, I don’t take it for granted,” Tendy said. “I’m still going to campaign, I can now just do it at a more relaxed pace.”
When Tendy ran in 2015 against Levy, it marked one of the uglier campaign fights in recent Putnam history. Tendy, pulling no punches, accused Levy of being corrupt and incompetent, citing his apparent involvement in the rape case of his former personal trainer even after he recused himself from the case. (The accused man, Alexandru Hossu, was found not guilty of all charges.) Levy’s ongoing feud with former sheriff Don Smith was also brought up as Smith backed Tendy, though Smith eventually lost his reelection bid two years later due to swirling allegations of corruption in his office. (Levy claimed some vindication when Smith settled a defamation lawsuit with Levy and admitted to conveying untruths to the public about the Hossu case and Levy’s involvement.)
During his first term, Tendy avoided the same harsh spotlight that Levy endured. But there were a couple of cases that brought on extra eyeballs, including the acquittal of Anthony DiPippo during his third trial for the rape and murder of a young Carmel girl in 1994 and a plea deal that resulted in a year in jail with former Carmel police officer and councilman Richard O’Keefe, who killed another driver as he drove drunk along Route 6.
Overall, Tendy said the assistant district attorneys and investigators on his staff are some of the best in the region and the office is running smoothly.
“I’m not a front page, publicity kind of guy,” Tendy said. “I want everyone to go to work and do their job and do a good job and go home.”
The district attorney’s office has also undertaken new initiatives.
The creation of the first narcotics unit in the history of the DA’s office is complete with two experienced narcotics ADAs now working solely on drug cases in the county, Tendy said. The new unit is already “paying dividends,” he noted.
And stressing that immigrants, legal or illegal, are victims of crimes but are reluctant to come forward, the office now has a hotline immigrants can call to report a crime or offer tips. All information is confidential and an immigrant’s legal status will not be revealed if they are the victim of a crime, Tendy said.
“We don’t care about it,” he said. “We don’t even ask about it.”
The office continues to do outreach to the immigrant community to make them aware of the hotline with Tendy noting there have already been a few useful tips from callers.
Going forward, Tendy wants to work on prosecuting more cyber crimes. While it hasn’t become a major issue in Putnam yet, some arrests have been made, Tendy said. He wants a couple of ADAs to become more familiar with those types of crimes.
When looking back on his tenure so far as district attorney, Tendy said, “It’s better than what I expected.”