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Sheriff: D.A. trying to influence rape case

8:17 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
Adam Levy announces his candidacy Jan. 23, 2007 for Putnam County District Attorney at the Mahopac (N.Y.) Public Library. His celebrity mother "Judge Judy" Sheindlin introduced him. His former live-in personal trainer has been charged with "forcibly and violently" raping a 12-year-old girl twice, authorities said Thursday, March 21, 2013. (Photo: Joe Larese, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News)
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By Shawn Cohen, James O'Rourke and Lee Higgins
The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News

SOUTHEAST, N.Y. - A New York district attorney is trying to use his office to influence a rape investigation focused on his former live-in personal trainer, a county sheriff said Friday.

Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith said he has formally requested that federal officials investigate whether District Attorney Adam Levy broke any laws by aiding Alexandru Hossu, who was charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree rape, a felony.

"In my view, Mr. Levy's comments and actions would seem to suggest that, if he could have his own way, Mr. Hossu would never have been brought to justice for his crime and Mr. Levy's relationship with him would have never been brought to the light of public scrutiny," Smith said in a statement Friday night.

Hossu, 35, was arrested Wednesday and arraigned in Patterson Town Court. Authorities have accused him of "forcibly and violently" raping a 12-year-old girl twice.

In an exclusive interview Friday, Levy, the son of Judy Scheindlin, TV's Judge Judy, refused to clarify his relationship with Hossu, a Romanian who lived in his million-dollar house. The district attorney would only say that his family had known him for years. Hossu identified the home as a legal address to both arresting officers and the judge at his arraignment. Hossu, who could face deportation, was in the U.S. illegally.

"I had absolutely no idea whatsoever of his immigration status," Levy said. He also said that an investigation will show that Hossu had a valid driver's license and Social Security number and was licensed by New York to run a business with a woman who is now his ex-wife. "Why would anyone not think he was here legitimately?" Levy said.

Smith's accusations came after the Sheriff's Office and Levy, in a series of statements issued Thursday and Friday, disagreed about several key factors of the case, including Hossu's true address and the decision for Levy to recuse his office from the investigation.

Levy's office Thursday claimed that Hossu lived at the district attorney's home until about six months ago. Levy would not reassert that claim Friday, but instead stated that Hossu resided at 512 Clock Tower Commons Drive in Brewster, which is where he was arrested.

After The Journal News reported that information, Southeast Building Inspector Michael Levine said there was no residence at that address, which is home to the Clock Tower Grill.

Levy then issued a second statement with a second address for Hossu, claiming he lives at 221 Clock Tower Commons Drive. That address appears to be a doctor's office and another office. No one answered the door at either.

Smith said that Hossu told authorities he lived at Levy's home and that his driver's license and post office-listed mailing address confirmed the address as his residence. Later Friday, Smith also rebuffed Levy's previous claim that he had decided to recuse his office from the Hossu investigation and accused Levy of trying to affect the investigation through continued official statements.

"From Mr. Levy's statement today -- and from other communications that have come out of his office in this case -- in actuality it appears that he has failed to honor or abide by the recusal decision of the investigative team," Smith said. "Rather, he is apparently trying to influence and (affect) the investigation, which could be perceived as an ethical violation of his official duties and perhaps even as an attempt to undermine it."

The Westchester District Attorney's Office is currently handling Hossu's case.

Levy and Smith began feuding openly last summer when Levy moved to let town and village attorneys plea-bargain traffic tickets issued by deputies over Smith's objections. Eventually, Levy got the better of the argument; town and village attorneys now handle traffic tickets in all municipalities except Cold Spring, which has no village attorney.

Levy's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment following Smith's accusations Friday night.

The rape accusations came to the attention of authorities recently, after the victim spoke to a school counselor, the Sheriff's Office said. The girl, now 15, and Hossu "reportedly knew each other," the office said.

The alleged rape occurred in Southeast, but not at Levy's home, his office said, adding that his 15-year-old daughter was not the victim.

Contributing: Terence Corcoran, Marcela Rojas and Barbara Livingston Nackman

The Journal News

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