This isn’t the first time someone has accused Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy of misconduct. Levy, the son of television jurist Judge Judy, has already filed suit against the local sheriff for such accusations. But the latest allegations suggest that Levy played an even bigger role than previously thought in helping his friend beat rape charges.
The defendant’s jilted former lawyer has come forward with his take on Levy’s role in the case and the revelations have one ethics expert musing that Levy could be in a lot of trouble.
I guess we can characterize all this as “don’t pee on my leg and tell me you’re not really bending over backward to help an accused rapist…”
Alexandru Hossu is accused of raping the 13-year-old daughter of his then-girlfriend. Hossu used to be Levy’s live-in personal trainer. Wait, why does a personal trainer need to live in your house? I can understand nannies and butlers, but you only actually need a personal trainer for a couple hours out of the day. This is already a little suspicious.
In any event, given this close relationship, Levy recused himself from the case and transferred the prosecution to neighboring Westchester County D.A.s and pledged not to interfere in the case. Since then, lots of people have accused Levy of interfering in the case.
First was Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith, who accused Levy of “ongoing and improper involvement” in the case and got slapped with a lawsuit. At the time, Judge Judy weighed in:
Levy’s mother, Judy Sheindlin, is a retired Family Court judge and the star of “Judge Judy.” She issued a statement Wednesday calling her son “principled, honorable and dedicated.”
“His moral compass is dead center,” she added. “When someone attacks his character professionally or personally they best be prepared to back it up — shut up — or pay up.”
Apparently, the prosecutor paying for the defense of someone accused of committing a crime in that jurisdiction is dead center on that moral compass:
Red flags were raised over Levy’s role in the case by the prosecution at a hearing in Putnam County Court on Monday where Judge Lester Adler agreed to replace Altchiler with Mentzer, who is married to Levy’s stepsister, Nicole Sheindlin.
Westchester Assistant District Attorney Fred Green asked Adler for an inquiry into “serious conflict of interest issues” stemming from Mentzer’s familial relationship to Levy and what he called Levy’s “bizarre revelation” last week that he had contributed to Hossu’s defense.
That’s right, not only is Levy financially contributing to the defense, the defendant’s lawyer was recently replaced by Levy’s brother-in-law. Certainly these events could all be above board, but a prudent prosecutor may want to look up the phrase “avoiding the mere appearance of impropriety.”
The replaced lawyer, Robert Altchiler, has come forward claiming that Levy was deeply involved in the case, despite his public protestations:
But lawyer Robert Altchiler said Levy, son of TV’s Judge Judy Sheindlin, was significantly involved from the outset and that his role went beyond dipping into his own pocket to help the defendant and longtime friend Alexandru Hossu. He said Levy, communicating by phone, emails, texts, and in person, aggressively tried to advise him on legal strategies, provided helpful background information from law enforcement and even pressed Altchiler to share an advance copy of legal papers so Levy could review them before they were filed in court… And there came a time that it seemed to me that the district attorney was no longer content to merely make suggestions, but he was intent on imposing his will on the case.”
That’s a pretty hefty set of allegations. Dangerously hefty:
Bennett Gershman, a professor at Pace University School of Law in White Plains who has written extensively on prosecutorial misconduct, has been critical of Levy of late but called Altchiler’s statements Monday about the extent of the district attorney’s involvement far more disturbing.
“This is a serious and dangerous conflict of interest,” the professor said. “It’s serious because he’s playing both sides. On one hand, he’s the district attorney. He’s removed from the case. And yet he’s aggressively involved. He misled everybody. In effect, he’s been engaging in fraudulent conduct.
“If what Altchiler says is true,” he continued, “if Levy has provided the defense important information about the case, if he’s tried to shape and manipulate a media strategy about this case, then I would say that Levy can be subject to removal from office. This is not just garden-variety prosecutorial misconduct. This is much more than that.”
The parties are going back to court on November 18, so we’ll get more insight then. Until then, Levy may want to step back and put some faith in the system that his mom makes a mockery of on a daily basis.
Putnam rape lawyer: D.A. Adam Levy deeply involved in defense from the start [The Journal News]
Judge Judy’s Son, Adam Levy, Sues Putnam County Sheriff For $5 Million [Huffington Post]