Nassau County DA appointed as special prosecutor in Schneiderman investigation

Madeline Singas

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas was appointed special prosecutor in investigating allegations against former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As special prosecutor Singas will investigate Schneiderman’s alleged assault, drug abuse and other actions as well as Attorney General staff based on facts in The New Yorker article that suggest staff and office resources may have played a role in Schneiderman’s actions.

“Pursuant to the Governor’s executive order, we will vigorously investigate the allegations for which jurisdiction has been granted,” Singas said in a statement.

Singas will work with District Attorney Tim Sini of Suffolk County regarding a woman’s allegations of Schneiderman slapping her across the face during an encounter in the Hamptons.

Cuomo also said Singas shall work with any other district attorneys who have relevant information. The governor opted for Singas to head the investigation because of concerns over the “perception” of a conflict based on a case involving the Weinstein Company.

“The Special Prosecutor’s jurisdiction will displace and supersede the jurisdiction of the New York County District Attorney’s Office, as there appears, at a minimum, an appearance of a conflict of interest with the Attorney General’s Office, which is currently investigating the relationship and actions between [the Manhattan DA’s Office] and the New York Police Department and their handling of alleged illegal acts including sexual harassment and assault, by producer Harvey Weinstein,” Cuomo said.

Initially, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance wrote a letter to Cuomo addressing the potential conflict of interest, but following a meeting with the governor, Singas and Sini in Manhattan on Thursday, Vance said he fully supports the Long Island prosecutors leading the investigation.

“We stand on the frontlines of the justice system to protect survivors of sexual violence and I stand with my DA partners, who really are two of the best DAs I’ve ever met and have the privilege to work with and look forward to working with Tim particularly,” Vance said

Cuomo said that he has full confidence in Vance and his office, as when they have worked together in the past, the work has been “remarkable.” The governor stressed repeatedly Thursday that he doesn’t want any lingering doubts about the investigation into the allegations against Schneiderman.

“Even in matters of criminal justice perceptions matter and I don’t want any perception of a conflict of interest,” Cuomo said. “Emotions are high, feelings are high, suspicion is high, it’s very important that we do what we do right and fairly without raising any perception issues whatsoever.”

Cuomo said he has no doubt that when Vance finishes his work and Singas does too, the public will be 100 percent assured that justice was served.

“What needs to happen now is for a district attorney with clear authority to take the reins and to move the investigation forward,” Vance said. “And I [do] not want my view of the law, as powerfully as I [hold] it, to be perceived to stand in the way of assigning someone of Madeline’s quality to move forward.”