Port Washington resident Michael A. Scotto has officially announced his bid to challenge Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas on the Democratic line in November to succeed Kathleen Rice as the county’s top prosecutor.
At a news conference outside the county’s State Supreme Court building in Mineola on Wednesday, Scotto said that if elected he would weed out political corruption in both major parties and be tough on Nassau’s heroin and opiate epidemic.
“A district attorney must never forget that they are the people’s advocate, tasked with the responsibility to prosecute all state crimes in Nassau County,” said Scotto, who was joined by supporters and his wife Maria. “We won’t pass on that responsibility ever.”
Scotto is the former chief of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office’s Rackets Bureau, serving the office for 22 years under D.A.s Robert Morgenthau and Cyrus Vance. He is also a former counselor with the New York City firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.
A career prosecutor, Scotto said he has helped convict “mob bosses and political posses, drug dealers and white-collar criminals,” and would strive for justice “without fear or favor, regardless of money, wealth, power or identity.”
Regarding state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested along with his son on Monday on bribery and extortion charges, Scotto commended the investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara but said he would have also conducted an investigation as district attorney.
“We need to prosecute more violent felons and plea bargain less. We need to focus our resources on prosecutions that make us safer and which aren’t just about grabbing headlines,” he said. “As a prosecutor, you can’t play politics with people’s lives. I’ve never done that and I never will.”
Scotto said Singas, the former top assistant D.A. who assumed the district attorney role in January upon Rice’s departure for Congress, is primarily interested in “maintaining the status quo” in a county he said full of illegal drugs and violent crime.
He said she also shied away from pursuing an investigation of the Nassau County Legislature’s presiding officer, Norma Gonsalves [R-East Meadow], following a Newsday report in February that said Gonsalves violated state election laws 33 times over a nine-year period by not adequately disclosing her campaign donors and expenses.
“I’ve read [Singas] believes everything is going well here in Nassau and really it’s only a matter of cracking down on texting while driving,” Scotto said.
Singas’ campaign declined to comment on Scotto’s comments.
Scotto’s announcement came two days after Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray told Newsday in an exclusive interview at a restaurant in Levittown that she would seek the Republican nomination for D.A.
A formal announcement of Murray’s campaign initially scheduled for Tuesday was postponed following the death of New York City police officer Brian Moore, 25, a Massapequa resident who was shot in the head while on duty Saturday in Queens.