In response to accusations that Suffolk County officials edited a hate crime report to remove segments critical of County Executive Steve Levy, the county executive issued a press release on January 4 saying that his office’s handling of the report was “routine procedure,” and that the draft of the report had not been edited except to add a one-page table of contents to a section about police procedures.
The accusations against the Levy administration were brought by Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), who is also the head of the Suffolk County Hate Crimes Task Force, the body commissioned to research, edit, and issue the report.
While the Task Force had ultimate responsibility over the report, a county-funded group, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, was charged with organizing the findings of the Task Force and creating a draft of the document. But that group is ultimately overseen by the county executive’s office, placing it in a politically precarious position.
One of the main allegations made by Legis. Gregory is that the county executive’s office acted improperly by receiving and reviewing the first draft of the report before the Task Force itself had a chance to examine it.
In his press release, however, Levy states that his administration had the right to review the report since the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council is part of county government.
The press release from the county executive also posited that the draft had not been cut in any way, referencing a signed affidavit from the head of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Robert Marmo, stating that the draft had not been changed by Levy’s office, withstanding the addition of a one-page table of contents.
Gregory, however, believes he has evidence that contradicts the affidavit—an audio recording of a Task Force meeting where a representative of the Coordinating Council stated that the first draft of the report was 150 pages, a draft that would have been a third longer than the 98-page document that eventually came out of Levy’s office.
The Levy press release stood out for its sprawling, emotional style punctuated by bold and underlined fonts, as well as a bullet-pointed section listing what the county executive considered previous instances of “unfounded paranoia” on the part of Legis. Gregory.
To read the press release in full, click here.
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