Putnam sheriff: It’s a sad day for the county


Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith released a statement about now-former Sen. Vincent Leibell, R-Patterson, and his legal problems, emphasizing that he had no independent confirmation of Leibell’s pending plea agreement and had not been in contact with federal authorities on the matter. Smith, former deputy county executive for now-outgoing Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi, was elected sheriff in 2001.

Leibell, a state senator for nearly 16 years, was elected Putnam County executive last month but will not be taking office. He resigned his Senate seat this week, weeks before the two-year term ends.

Here is what Smith, a Republican, had to say:

I am making this statement regarding published media reports appearing today concerning State Senator Vincent Leibell’s plea bargain agreement with federal authorities on alleged public corruption charges.   I must emphasize that the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has received no official notification from federal authorities either confirming or denying the accuracy of those published reports, and that I make this statement based solely on the media reports.

Assuming that the reports published today by area media outlets are accurate, then today is indeed a very sad day for the people of Putnam County, the residents of Senator Leibell’s senate district and all New Yorkers.  On a personal level, I am deeply disappointed. I am sure that my late father, Donald B. Smith, would have been profoundly saddened by these events too, because he knew Mr. Leibell in the Senator’s youth and always expressed high hopes that he would use his talents to accomplish much for our citizens.

Our people have a fundamental right to integrity in government. They should expect and receive nothing less.  When a public official abuses his office, he drains the reservoir of public trust upon which our government institutions depend.  This represents yet another sad case of how the corrupting influence of the political culture in Albany can ruin some people.

But even as the reports concerning the federal case against the Senator disturb and sadden us, this event signals the end of a dark era in Putnam politics and the beginning of an era of opportunity for better government—honest, fair, open and good government.  From that perspective, this terrible day had to come.

We citizens and public servants should take no delight in the ordeal that Senator Leibell and his family are reportedly facing now.  Rather, if the reports are accurate, we must hope that he will accept full responsibility for his actions with repentance and make amends for any misdeeds.   Everyone has a life to live and a purpose in life to be realized.  Looking ahead into Senator Leibell’s future, we should hope and pray that he will experience rehabilitation, forgiveness and redemption and then use his considerable talents to help others.  We are concerned about and pray for his family, and wish the best for them.


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  1. I think it is best to allow Bob Bondi to stay another year and sort things out and then the residents can vote for the candidate they see best fit to serve. That is the fairest and most reasonable approach.

  2. Integrity In Gov't on

    I also think it would be the best move to allow Bob Bondi to stay in for another year. Unless a special election could be called before that.

    I hear other well known individuals are being looked at in Putnam County.

  3. Dark days in Putnam on

    Smith would make a better County Executive than Sheriff. He even looks more like the county excutive than the sheriff! Give him the year, I agree..

  4. Hayworth Consultant on

    I hope Congresswoman Nan Hayworth cuts ties to her new District Director Rob Difrancesco before Leibell’s troubles catch up to him.

    In this recorded phone call, Rob DiFrancesco admits to –
    1) Giving poll results between Mike Rights, Lorraine Mitts, and John Degnan that he “got his hands on” to Putnam County Democratic Chairwoman Lynne Eckardt and Brewster Mayor John Degnan prior to the 2007 Town of Southeast election. Email traffic between DiFrancesco and Eckardt shows that Difrancesco stole this poll from Assemblyman Greg Ball’s email.

    2) Working for Senator Vincent Leibell to make sure that Republican nominee Mike Rights does not win the election for Southeast Supervisor to “neuter Greg” Ball. In 2008, when Degnan ran against Greg Ball for Assembly, Senator Leibell funneled more than $100,000 into Degnan’s campaign.

    3) Speaking with “someone very close to Vinnie.” Email traffic shows that Difrancesco communicated directly with Senator Leibell’s Chief of Staff, Ray Maguire. In one email, Rob Difrancesco sends Ray Maguire a list of confidential constituent correspondences received by the 99th Assembly Office, and Difrancesco advises Maguire on how Leibell can use this list to benefit Senator Leibell and hurt Assemblyman Ball.

    4) Stealing confidential mail artwork from the Westchester County Republican Committee’s secure server and sending that artwork to Lynne Eckardt.

    5) Admits to stealing printer toners worth $500 that he then sold on e-Bay for $200. To answer allegations that he stole these toners from the NYS Assembly, Difrancesco admits to stealing the toners from Assembly candidate Jim Coleman (R-Scarsdale). Theft is theft, Rob, no matter who you steal from.

  5. Dark days in Putnam on

    Blah Blah is right. If Smith’s appointed CE, then we’re in the same position we’re in now except who do you put in the sheriff slot? They’ll probably just keep bondi, besides, Smith isn’t leaving that cushy job he’s got for a 1 year stint as county executive.

    Those allegations against difranceso are well known…..why didn’t the FBI ever do anything to him? OR DID THEY…….??? HMMMM…….

  6. Hayworth consultant ( I doubt it) – Here’s hoping the FBI continue their probe by reviewing all of Ball’s unethical, immoral, and possibly illegal behavior during the last 6 years. He is the one who should be trembling and probably is noting his muted response to the Leibell probe. Trying to stay under the radar greggie?

  7. Greg Ball is probably the most relaxed guy in Putnam. That’s how worried he is. The FBI doesn’t concern itself with what you call immoral & unethical behavior. They go after egregious corruption, which means Ball & Scannapieco are in the clear.
    Face it, Leibell is gone. There IS no more Vinny Leibell. That whole faction got wiped out in one sweep. Anyone sponsored by him is also GONE and DONE WITH. His house his gone, either sold or confiscated (although the man living inside it has been “For Sale” for many years). There were two camps, the Leibell camp and the Ball camp. Now there’s just the Ball camp. The funny thing is, wait till Vinny finds out that many of his longtime supporters have have suckling up to Ball for months, knowing Vinny was going down. Vinny’s problem is he never surrounded himself with loyal people, just people looking to get something from him, money or power or votes. Look at his #2 guy, he wore a tape recorder to record Vinny & many others.