Attorney General

Email Evidence Allowed In Pigeon Case

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s case against western New York political operative scored a victory Friday after a state Supreme Court judge reversed a ruling that denied email evidence in the case last June.

In the ruling, Judge Donald Cerio vacated his own ruling from last year that found the emails were improperly obtained by investigators.

But Cerio determined that “upon further consideration” that evidence should be allowed at trial given the probable cause for search warrants to be issued to gain access to the documents.

At issue was the timing of search warrants for the emails and when Google could provide access to investigators to view the emails in question.

Pigeon is accused of nine felonies associated with allegedly bribing a state Supreme Court judge. The judge, John Michalek, has already pleaded guilty.

image2018-03-16-135404 (1) by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Khojasteh Won’t Run For AG

Sarmad Khojasteh, a Republican from Westchester County who ran for the state Senate earlier this year, will not seek the GOP nomination for attorney general, a spokeswoman for him said Tuesday.

Republicans in Westchester had suggested Khojasteh as a potential candidate for attorney general, taking on incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman, who is seeking a third term this year. Khojasteh told The Daily News earlier this month that he was considering a bid for attorney general after yielding the state Senate race nomination to fellow Republican Julie Killien.

This likely sends Republicans back to the drawing board for a candidate to run against Schneiderman, who has in the last year challenged policies backed by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Schneiderman in 2014 defeated Republican John Cahill, a former top aide to Gov. George Pataki and environmental conservation commissioner, to secure a second term.

AG: Supreme Court Decision A Win For DACA Recipients

The Supreme Court’s decision to reject a request by President Donald Trump’s administration to determine whether it has the authority to shutter the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was feted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, who said in a statement the development is a win for “dreamers.”

“Today, the Supreme Court denied President Trump’s effort to circumvent the usual judicial process – ensuring that the preliminary injunctions we secured to block President Trump’s DACA rescission will remain in place for now,” Schneiderman said. “This is a win for the 42,000 New York Dreamers and over 700,000 Dreamers across the country, and for the millions of families, businesses, hospitals, and universities that depend on Dreamers every single day.

Schneiderman’s office is among the state attorneys general suing to provide bolstered legal status for dreamers, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children who are in a state of legal limbo as the federal government determines the fate of the DACA program.

“It also does not change the fact that we need a permanent solution to preserve DACA and protect Dreamers,” Schneiderman said. “Congress must act. I’m proud to lead our coalition of 17 Attorneys General who have been fighting in court since September to protect Dreamers and preserve DACA. We look forward to continuing this critical fight moving forward.”

Schneiderman Opposes Citizenship Question On 2020 Census

A coalition of attorneys general from 19 states, backed by the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, are pushing for the rejection of a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census form.

Schneiderman in a statement warned the question could lead to an under count in states like New York with large immigrant populations, thus hurting the state’s representation in Washington and in turn federal aid the state is due.

“Fair representation is at the heart of our democracy. Yet DOJ’s effort to add a citizenship question to our Census directly targets state like New York that have large, thriving immigrant populations – threatening our representation in Congress and the Electoral College and billions of dollars in federal funds on which New Yorkers rely,” Schneiderman said.

“With fear on the rise in immigrant communities, it’s no surprise that many families would be frightened to participate in a Census that asked about citizenship. Our coalition will continue to fight back against these sorts of draconian polices that seek to punish states like New York that embrace and celebrate our diversity.”

The state AGs released a letter on Monday to the U.S. Department of Commerce and its secretary, Wilbur Ross, outlining their concerns over the potential inaccurate count because of the citizenship question.

Multi-state Letter 2020 Census by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Schneiderman To Sue Over Federal Clean Water Rule

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Thursday announced it will lead a multi-state coalition to sue over a change to the federal Clean Water Rule.

Schneiderman in a statement Thursday contended the rules change amounts to a rollback of environmental protections by suspending it for two years, replacing it with regulations that are outdated and confusing.

“The Clean Water Rule is a common sense application of the law and the best science to protect our waters. The Trump Administration’s suspension of these vital protections is reckless and illegal. That is why I will lead a multistate coalition that will sue to block this rollback in court,” Schneiderman said.

“Over the last year, we have not hesitated to fight back against the Trump Administration’s assault on the law and New Yorkers’ fundamental right to clean water, air, and environment. We won’t stop now.”

Schneiderman has filed legal challenges to a variety of Trump administration regulatory changes and policies, ranging from the environment to immigration and telecommunications.

Schneiderman And AGs: Trump Admin Can’t Block Abortions

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and a coalition of a dozen state AGs from the around country are opposing President Donald Trump’s administration effort to block two immigrant women in federal custody from obtaining abortion services.

“The United States Constitution guarantees all women the right to access an abortion, including unaccompanied minor immigrants,” said the coalition of Attorneys General.

“Forcing women to remain pregnant against their will is cruel, inhumane, and entirely illegal. The federal government has no authority to deny these women access to abortion services and we are confident that federal courts will overwhelmingly agree. We will not allow this administration to prey on young and vulnerable women in pursuit of a radical anti-abortion agenda. We will continue to fight alongside our allies to ensure these women receive the justice they deserve.”

The coalition of AGs is composed of officials in California, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Vermont, and the District of Columbia in addition to the New York office.

The coalition in October had previous filed an amicus brief in a case involving a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor in federal custody who was seeking an abortion. The D.C. Circuit Court overruled the Trump administration, allowing the woman known as Jane Doe to obtain the abortion.

Schneiderman To Sue Over Net Neutrality Rollback

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will lead a multi-state legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s rollback of net neutrality regulations, approved Thursday in a party line vote.

“The FCC’s vote to rip apart net neutrality is a blow to New York consumers, and to everyone who cares about a free and open internet,” Schneiderman said.

“The FCC just gave Big Telecom an early Christmas present, by giving internet service providers yet another way to put corporate profits over consumers. Today’s rollback will give ISPs new ways to control what we see, what we do, and what we say online. That’s a threat to the free exchange of ideas that’s made the Internet a valuable asset in our democratic process.”

The rollback changes regulations dating to President Barack Obama’s administration and some tech companies like Netflix, Facebook and Google fear it could lead to a tiered Internet in which some lanes for certain websites and streaming services move faster than others, with faster lanes costing more.

The changes also come amid a period of major consolidation and upheaval in the media industry as streaming services have presented new challenges to more established pay TV providers.

Schneiderman’s office has also raised concerns with the the public comments posted on the FCC’s website on the net neutrality issue, with up to two million based on stolen identities of people who never made them, including more than 100,000 comments from states like New York, Florida, Texas, and California.

Schneiderman Blasts Acting Consumer Board Chief

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday said his office and a coalition of attorneys general around the country would continue to enforce consumer protection laws amid turmoil at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Board.

Schneiderman, in a letter signed by the AGs, knocked the acting director, Mick Mulvaney, who took over the agency amid a leadership dispute with the departing, Democratic-nominated head.

The letter notes Mulvaney has been critical of the board’s functions and enforcement powers.

“Such statements about an agency that has helped millions of American consumers and achieved fundamental reform in a number of critically important areas of American commerce are categorically false, and should disqualify Mr. Mulvaney from leading the agency, even on an acting basis,” the letter states.

“As the top state law enforcement officials charged with investigating consumer complaints of fraudulent, deceptive and abusive financial practices in our respective states, we know from first-hand experience that the need for strong consumer financial protection is undiminished in the years since the financial crisis.”

Indictment Moves WNY Election Law Case Closer To Trial

A grand jury indicted three Western New York political operatives Friday afternoon on felony election charges. Steve Pigeon, Kristy Mazurek, and David Pfaff face two counts each related to unlawful campaign coordination.

Pigeon’s attorney Paul Cambria said these are the same charges from a felony complaint, to which the three defendants pleaded Not Guilty in April. Cambria said the case could not move to trial without the New York Attorney General’s office seeking an indictment.

“This was the next step. It’s always the next step. It’s not a surprise,” he said.

Pigeon, Mazurek, and Pfaff, are accused of illegally coordinating with candidates for Erie County Legislature in 2013. According to the indictment, they used an independent expenditure committee, the WNY Progressive Caucus, to raise money on behalf of candidates and circumvent campaign contribution limits.

“Today’s indictment sends a clear message that we’ll continue to aggressively enforce our state’s election and campaign finance laws,” AG Eric Schneiderman said. “These actions aren’t just illegal – they erode the public trust and we intend to hold them accountable.”

Cambria said the defendants will need to be arraigned again but that arraignment is not scheduled yet.

Rensselaer County DA Faces Charges Over Handling Of Police Case

The top prosecutor in Rensselaer County was arraigned Friday on charges that stem from his handling of a case involving a Troy man who was killed in 2016 by police in Troy.

District Attorney Joel Abelove pleaded not guilty on two misdemeanor counts of official misconduct and a first-degree perjury charge. He was released and will continue in office as the trial unfolds.

Abelove is the first county prosecutor to face charges after Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015 approved an executive order that gave Attorney General Eric Schneiderman special prosecutor powers in cases in which a law enforcement officer causes the death of unarmed civilian.

Schneiderman’s office alleges Abelove’s office did not comply with efforts to determine whether the April 2016 shooting death of Edson Thevenin fell under the state’s jurisdiction. Instead, Abelove presented the case to a grand jury. Schneiderman’s office also alleges Abelove withheld information from the grand jury including material evidence.

At the same time, he conferred immunity on the officer involved in the case, Sgt. Randall French, before the grand jury voted.

“As we allege, District Attorney Abelove’s actions violated the law and undermined a criminal investigation,” Schneiderman said.

“The Governor’s Executive Order was designed to restore public confidence in our criminal justice system – yet the actions we detail today only served to further erode that confidence. My office will continue to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies across the state, including district attorneys, to ensure fair, comprehensive, and independent investigations of every case within our jurisdiction, so that families like the Thevenins get the answers they deserve.”