District Attorney touts high conviction rate in annual report

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

IMG_2202New City – The recently-released report for the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office’s 2012 year revealed the office oversaw significantly higher conviction rates over the course of last year, among other figures.

The conviction rate was announced to be 95.5 percent, with 574 convictions in Rockland County Court creating a slight 0.87 percent increase in conviction numbers overall.

The District Attorney achieved 24 verdicts in criminal trials and placed as the highest in percentage of jury verdicts and lowest in dismissal rate among all counties in the Lower Hudson Valley. In addition, 601 felony cases were filed, representing a drop of 5.7 percent over the course of 2011.

The report also announced the most recent figures in other specialized areas of the DA’s office. The two-year old Special Victims Center in Suffern reported serving 82 child victims and 73 adult victims, with 13 videotaped recordings of childrens’ testimony produced for Grand Jury and the total number of sex offenders increasing to 24. Cases referred to the facility jumped 20 percent since 2011.

In addition, the Special Investigations Unit netted significant sums as a result of various prosecutions and initiatives. Restitution from crooked home improvement contractors totaled $50,000, benefit overpayment recoveries totaled $322,793 and recoveries from individuals involved with wage crimes, tax fraud, and asset forfeiture for New York State’s Crimes Against Revenue Program (CARP) totaled $1,557,991.55.

The county’s Drug Task Force saw significant activity in 2012. The Drug Task Force conducted 251 undercover drug purchases, over 200 investigations, received 55 leads, and executed 29 operational events netting 96 arrests for possession and distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and prescription pills.

Meanwhile, the county’s drug courts saw a busy year with the introduction of the Misdemeanor Drug Court in April 2012. Interestingly, the inclusion of drunk driving offenses in drug court resulted in a recidivism rate of nearly zero.

As of 2012, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office employs 70 personnel with 31 full-time attorneys and 12 investigative staff members with a total operating budget of $12,141,181.