City Councilman Vincent Gentile (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights) is exploring a possible run for Kings County District Attorney, according to sources close to him.
Gentile, who is term-limited out of office next year, has extensive experience as a prosecutor, having served as an Assistant DA for 11 year in Queens. This includes spending a significant amount of time in the Special Victims Bureau including the St. John’s Lacrosse team sexual abuse case in the early 1990s, and the Major Case Narcotics Investigations Bureau, where he uncovered large caches of drugs and cash coming in through Queens. He was also a Supervisor Attorney in the Grand Jury bureau and spent time in the Supreme Court bureau.
Gentile received his JD from Fordham Law in 1985, passed the New York State bar in 1985 and received his license to practice law in 1986.
The race for the borough’s top prosecutor seat is expected to be something of a free-for-all with the recent death of sitting District Attorney Ken Thompson. Among those expected to throw their hat in the ring are Acting DA Eric Gonzalez and longtime Democratic female district leader and former ADA Anne Swern.
Gonzalez grew up in East New York and Williamsburg, and in 1995 received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was president of the Latino Law Students Association.
Gonzalez began his legal career in 1995, as an assistant district attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. After spending several years as a junior and then senior assistant in different bureaus within the office, including the Sex Crimes and Special Victims Bureau, Domestic Violence Bureau, Orange Trial Zone Bureau, and Green Trial Zone Bureau, Gonzalez was promoted to supervisory positions in the Green Trial Zone. Both before and after his promotions, Mr. Gonzalez tried a full range of violent crime cases, including homicides.
Swern was a prosecutor for over 33 years, during which time she served four elected district attorneys. Among her responsibilities as the First Assistant District Attorney for Kings County, she supervised more than eleven hundred attorneys and support staff members in their prosecutorial and administrative functions was the senior executive for alternative sentencing policy and programming. Together with other stakeholders she planned and supervised the Brooklyn Treatment and Mental Health Courts, the Red Hook Community Justice Center and the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) Program. During her tenure at KCDA, she supervised various Bureaus and Divisions and conducted numerous investigations and jury trials to verdict, including homicide and sex crimes cases.
Swern is a member of the Judiciary Committee of the Brooklyn Bar Association and a Special Advisor to the Criminal Justice Council of the American Bar Association and a Co-Chair of the Reentry and Collateral Consequences Committee. She served on the New York State Commission on Drugs and the Courts and assisted in the preparation of a report to Chief Judge Judith Kaye, Confronting the Cycle of Addiction and Recidivism.
Also possibly considering a run is Public Advocate Letitia James, who although a respected attorney, is short on prosecutorial experience.
Early KCP odds give Gentile a solid shot at the position if he faces Gonzalez and Swern ina three-person race next year. While Gonzalez is sure to do well with the Hispanic vote, and Kings County Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio could be partial toward Swern, Gentile has strong name recognition and the Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst/Dyker Heights base.
Additionally, Gentile could conceivably get the Black vote if no major Black elected official enters the race.
As one Bedford-Stuyvesant source noted, Gentile showed up at last year’s powerful Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) Christmas party and was well received. It is possible that VIDA may back Gentile, the source said.