Brooklyn DA probes Hynes over use of forfeiture money

Questions raised about handling of funds earmarked for victims of real estate scammer
June 25, 2014 10:40AM

Former Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes, already under investigation by state and federal authorities, is now in his successor’s crosshairs for allegedly using asset forfeiture money to pay restitution to real estate scam victims while in office.

Long Island housewife Maria Albertina pleaded guilty to grand larceny in 2006 for bilking 11 victims out of their homes, but restitution payments reportedly did not come through until 2013. The executor of one of the victims’ estate, Rev. Samuel Boykin, received a check marked “asset forfeiture” for $24,493 in July 2013. Boykin told the Post he believed the check was hush money meant to quiet them during Hynes’ campaign against current DA Ken Thompson. Boykin said they should have instead been paid as soon as Albertina pleaded guilty.

“What did they do with the money for all those years?” Boykin’s lawyer Dennis Kelly said to the Post. “It should have been in an escrow account on behalf of the victims. What I think happened is that Hynes improperly co-mingled restitution and asset forfeiture funds in this one slush fund.”

Prosecutors questioned Boykin last week about the restitution check, asking whether he knew from which DA account it was drawn. Court papers cited by the Post show that a total of $263,000 was dispensed to Albertina’s 11 victims in June 2013.

But, according to Boykin, far more forfeiture money should have been seized from Albertina in the first place, as she cleared $2 million on her scams. With the money, she purchased a $600,000 Long Island house, a $200,000 boat and a $50,000 SUV, according to Hynes’ own estimate back in 2004.

“I have no comment about an inquiry that you tell me DA Ken Thomposon is conducting,” Hynes lawyer Robert Hill Schwartz told the Post. Representatives for Thompson also declined to comment to the paper, as did a spokesperson for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is currently investigating Hynes’ alleged use of forfeiture and other funds to pay for political consultants. [NYP]Julie Strickland