Former State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who is still facing 7 lawsuits connected to alleged harassment, has now been fined $100,000 after the legislative ethics commission found that he violated state ethics laws. Mr. Gabryszak is accused of harassing female staffers and using state resources to fund his reelection campaign.
Renowned criminal defense attorney Barry Covert spoke to WGRZ about Mr. Gabryszak’s case in December when the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) released a report on the former Assemblyman and WGRZ reached out to him again for his legal analysis on the new developments in the case. The full story is available on the WGRZ website.
Campaign funds should not be used to pay fine
Dennis Gabryszak, a former New York State Assemblyman, is now facing a fine of $100,000 after it was found that he violated state ethics laws. WGRZ asked Barry Covert if Mr. Gabryszak would be allowed to use campaign funds to pay those fines. “He can use his campaign funds to pay for attorneys to defend himself initially against accusations that stem from his job as a legislator,” Mr. Covert said, but “the case law […] seems to go against him” when it comes to paying for fines and penalties.
WGRZ reports that, after Gabryszak resigned in January of 2014, his campaign finance records showed that he had more than $4,400 on hand. According to WGRZ, Gabryszak paid $4,000 as a retainer to Greenberg Traurig law firm in Albany, $40 in bank fees, and over $100 in miscellaneous expenses, which left him with $510.50 in his campaign chest as of the last reporting in July.
“That’s not going to go anywhere,” Mr. Covert said. “For $500, you’re not going to get legal representation. So, chances are he’s been having to pay for his legal representation out of his own pocket.”
Gabryszak has four months to challenge fine
It is up to the State Election Commission to determine whether or not the $100,000 fine against Gabryszak stands, WGRZ reports. If it does stand, then Gabryszak has four months to decide whether to challenge the decision. Mr. Covert told WGRZ what would happen if Gabryszak does not have the $100,000 to pay the fine.
“There would be an enforcement action taken in court and, if they prevail, a judgment is taken against you,” he said. New York State, the judgment generally is on the books for about 10 years unless it’s renewed, and then it’s on for another 10 years.”
“So,” Mr. Covert continued, “for 20 years he could have a situation where, if he ever accumulates assets, somebody could try to use those assets against him to satisfy the judgment.”
About Barry N. Covert
Mr. Covert, a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.