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Katz receives endorsement from AG James as second challenger files petitions to run in DA primary

Apr. 18, 2023 By Bill Parry

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz’s re-election campaign on April 17 announced the endorsement of New York State Attorney General Letitia James. The latest endorsement builds on her support from other elected officials, organized labor unions and community groups.

“Since she became district attorney, Melinda Katz has been laser-focused on protecting Queens families, keeping them safe in their communities and ensuring justice in the courtroom,” James said. “I’m proud to endorse District Attorney Katz for re-election because Queens needs a champion who will keep up that fight. That’s always been her commitment to the Borough and always will be.”

Katz was elected district attorney in 2019 and inaugurated in 2020, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, she’s led the effort to take illegal ghost guns off the streets and held human traffickers and domestic abusers accountable while launching the borough’s first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit to ensure justice for those wrongfully convicted.

“Attorney General Letitia James is a leader in the fight to keep New Yorkers safe and ensure fairness in the criminal justice system. And I’m a proud partner in that fight. Receiving her endorsement is a true honor and a real indicator that the work we are doing in Queens is being noticed and supported at all levels of government,” Katz said. “Our work here in the Queens DA office is not done, we must continue to build on the great progress we have made, and I look forward to doing that with Attorney General James for another four years.”

In a message to her supporters over the weekend, Katz said her challenger in the June 27 Democratic primary, retired Judge George Grasso, is planning to run as a third-party independent in November’s general election and has been courting Republicans.

Grasso joined WCBS’s Marcia Kramer during her Sunday morning talk show to explain why.

Retired Judge George Grasso of Douglaston says he’s been stonewalled by Democratic clubs and is planning to run on an independent third party line in November’s general election whether he wins the Democratic primary or not. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

“I’m new to politics, but I am not new to the political realities of New York City and I will not allow my candidacy to be put in a box that’s controlled by the Democrat establishment,” Grasso said.

A card-carrying Democrat for more than 40 years, Grasso said he has reached out to every Democratic club in Queens but has not been invited to speak at any of their meetings, so he is engaging independent voters and Republican clubs.

“The same Democrats who won’t invite me to speak at their clubs now have the chutzpah to criticize me for that,” Grasso said. “I’m not hiding my strategy from anyone.”

Grasso said he is filing to run in the general election on the independent Public Safety line. Before he joined the judiciary, Grasso served in the NYPD rising through the ranks from a beat cop in the 113th Precinct all the way to first deputy commissioner.

“I believe I have a good chance of winning outright on June 27,” Grasso said. “Whether I win in the primary or not, I’ll have the independent line and I want to be a unifier among Democrats, Republicans and independents. I’m not running as a guy with the secret Democrat handshake. I’m running as someone who’s proud to say I worked with Commissioner Bill Bratton and I’m proud to have his endorsement.”

Meanwhile, Devian Daniels, a public defender from southeast Queens filed her petitions with more than 13,000 signatures with the Board of Elections to be the third candidate for Queens district attorney in the Democratic primary. The Jamaica resident is a graduate of CUNY Law School at Queens College who has practiced law for more than 16 years representing poor people assigned counsel in the courthouse. She has pledged to transform the district attorney’s office.

Public defender Devian Daniels filed petitions to get on the ballot for Queens District Attorney in the June 27 Democratic primary. (Courtesy of Daniels’ Campaign)

“Our grassroots movement seeks to give the voters of Queens a real option between a promoter of mass incarceration and a career politician that voted for the death penalty and continues to operate the office of district attorney rife with disparities that negatively impact communities of color,” Daniels said. “After years of witnessing abuses on the front lines as defense counsel, I am running to keep the residents of Queens safe and to transform the Queens district attorney’s office into one that is fairer, truly seeks to end mass incarceration, end the criminalization of poverty and to protect everyone’s civil rights.”

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A College Point man who works as an inspector at the city’s Department of Buildings is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for overlooking potential violations at various Queens locations on multiple occasions since January 2023.

Zabihullah Ibrahimi, 42, of 22nd Avenue, was arraigned Thursday in Queens Criminal Court on bribery and official misconduct charges for taking cash from homeowners and then closing complaints about their property. In one case, he allegedly asked for $3,500 from a property owner and, when she said she had no cash, he directed her to go to a bank and get it while he waited at her home, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.