Charles J. Hynes

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Charles Joseph Hynes (May 28, 1935) is the current district attorney of Kings County, New York (Brooklyn). A Democrat, Hynes was first elected to office in 1989 and is currently serving a sixth term.


Life and early career

Hynes was born and raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.[1] He attended St. Ann's Academy (now Archbishop Molloy High School) in Briarwood, Queens, and received both his bachelor's degree, in 1957, and his J.D. in 1961 from St. John's University in Jamaica, Queens.[2] Hynes is married to Patricia L. Pennisi, a registered nurse. The couple has five children and sixteen grandchildren.[3]

From 1963 Hynes worked for the Legal Aid Society as an associate attorney before joining the Kings County District Attorney's Office as an Assistant District Attorney in 1969. In 1971, Hynes was appointed as Chief of the Rackets Bureau and was named First Assistant District Attorney in 1973.[4]

In 1975, Governor Hugh Carey and Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz appointed Hynes as special state prosecutor for Nursing Homes, Health and Social Services, in response to a massive scandal in the state’s nursing home industry. Hynes' office launched a comprehensive attack on Medicaid fraud, and his Medicaid Fraud Control Unit eventually became a national model, cited in a report of the House Select Committee on Aging as the best in the country.[5] Hynes testified before Congress in 1976 in favor of legislation establishing state fraud control units and providing federal funding. The legislation became law in 1977.[6] Now, 48 states have Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

Hynes was appointed the 24th New York City Fire Commissioner by Mayor Edward I. Koch on November 5, 1980 upon the resignation of Augustus A. Beekman. Hynes served in that position until his resignation on October 22, 1982. He served as a Commissioner for the New York State Commission of Investigation between 1983 and 1985 by appointment of New York State Assembly Speaker Stanley Fink. In 1985, Governor Mario Cuomo appointed District Attorney Hynes Special State Prosecutor for the New York City Criminal Justice System.[7]

Hynes′ first major achievement as a head prosecutor would occur in 1987 when he was tasked with investigating the death of Michael Griffith, an African-American teenager who was set upon by a mob of white teens in Howard Beach, Queens.[8] Hynes managed to secure three homicide convictions against the defendants, who would subsequently be sentenced to prison terms of varying lengths. He later published a book about the case.[9]

Career as District Attorney

In October, 1990, Hynes initiated the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison Program (DTAP) on the premise that drug-addicted defendants would return to society in a better position to resist drugs and crime after treatment than if they had spent a comparable time in prison at nearly twice the cost. DTAP is available for nonviolent predicate felons with a history of drug addiction and has been held up as a model for similar prosecution based drug treatment programs across the country.[10]

Hynes is credited with establishing one of the most comprehensive-and first-countywide programs designed specifically to address domestic abuse as a criminal issue, and with the collaboration of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani implemented a citywide program to monitor convicted domestic violence offenders.[11]

Sandra Roper, who had previously run against Hynes in 2001, was brought up on felony theft charges by a special prosecutor. Hynes’ office had received a complaint that Roper stole about $9,000 from a client and then lied about it to the state grievance committee. Hynes immediately recused himself from the case, and Maranda Fritz was appointed as special prosecutor. After a mistrial in 2004 due to a hung jury, the case was eventually dismissed in 2005 after Roper repaid the former client about $9,000.[12] Roper then sued Hynes for allegedly acting improperly with regard to the criminal case against her. However, in 2006, a federal judge threw out the suit and ruled that Roper’s allegation was unsubstantiated.[13]

In 2005, in partnership with New York City and the state court system, he opened the first Family Justice Center in New York State, an all-in-one facility where domestic violence victims can meet with prosecutors, counselors, civil attorneys and clergy members, and get help changing their locks, finding new housing, handling custody issues and a wide range of related problems, all in their native languages.[14]

In 2005 Hynes defeated primary challenges from several other opponents, including State Senator John L. Sampson.[15]

One of the most high-profile cases pursued by Hynes to date has been his prosecution of former assemblyman and Kings County Democratic Party chief Clarence Norman, Jr. After trial under four separate indictments, Norman was acquitted once and convicted three times on felony charges, including grand larceny and extortion.[16]

In addition to Norman, Hynes has successfully prosecuted and secured the convictions of two judges for taking bribes. Former Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Victor Barron was sentenced to three to nine years in prison for soliciting a bribe[17], and former Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson was sentenced to three to ten years in prison for accepting gifts and money from an attorney, in exchange for favorable treatment in Garson’s courtroom.[18]

Moreover, several other cases during Hynes' tenure have been both high profile and controversial. Among these was the 2008 case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a Brooklyn yeshiva teacher charged with sexual molestation, but later entering a plea bargain agreement for a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child. Rabbi Kolko was sentenced to three years probation and counseling.[19]

Hynes has created a program called Kol Tzedek (Voice of Justice), aimed at Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community which encourages victims of sexual abuse in that community to come forward to law enforcement. [20]


  1. ^ "Official Kings County District Attorney Biography". 
  2. ^ Barron, James (January 14, 1987). "Man in the News; Farsighted Prosecutor: Charles J. Hynes". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Official Kings County District Attorney Biography". 
  4. ^ "Official Kings County District Attorney Biography". 
  5. ^ Pear, Robert (March 27, 1982). "Panel Says Most States Fail on Policing Medicaid Fraud". New York Times. 
  6. ^ "History". National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU). 
  7. ^ "Official Kings County District Attorney Biography". 
  8. ^ Smothers, Ronald (January 14, 1987). "Hynes is Selected to be Prosecutor in Queens Attack". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Wolfe, Linda (February 11, 1990). "One Night in Queens". New York Times. 
  10. ^ "Crossing the Bridge: An Evaluation of the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) Program". March 2003. 
  11. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. (July 27, 1999). "Alarm Helps to Fight Domestic Violence". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Cardwell, Diane (March 1, 2005). "Theft Charges Against a Rival to a Prosecutor Are Dismissed". New York Times. 
  13. ^ Goldstein, Joseph (September 26, 2009). "Hynes Scores Legal Victory Against an Old Political Foe". New York Sun. 
  14. ^ Hays, Elizabeth (July 21, 2005). "Oasis From Domestic Abuse. Center Consolidates Services For Victims". New York Daily News. 
  15. ^ Hernandez, Raymond (September 14, 2005). "Hynes Wins a Fiercely Contested Primary Race for District Attorney". New York Times. 
  16. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (February 24, 2007). "Former Democratic Leader in Brooklyn Is Convicted". New York Times. 
  17. ^ Glaberson, William (October 29, 2002). "Ex-Brooklyn Judge to Serve at Least 3 Years for Bribe". New York Times. 
  18. ^ Brick, Michael (June 29, 2007). "Humbled by Scandal, Judge Begins Prison Term". New York Times. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Orthodox Jewish counselor on trial in sex abuse case". 

External links

Fire appointments
Preceded by
Augustus A. Beekman
New York City Fire Commissioner
Succeeded by
Joseph E. Spinnato
Legal offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Holtzman
District Attorney of Kings County, New York