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Brooklyn DA Hit With $15K Penalty for Violating Conflict Laws

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on August 26, 2016 6:59 AM

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson must pay $15,000 in fines for using his office's account to pay for some of his meals in violation of applicable conflict-of-interest laws, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The fine is essentially punitive, as sources indicate that Thompson has already reimbursed the city for expensing his meals from January 2014 to February 2015. The amount billed to the city totaled approximately $3,500.

Conflict of Interest

Brooklyn's Conflict of Interest Board concluded that Mr. Thomson violated the city's ethics laws when he used office funds to pay for weekday meals, dinners, and other weekend meals. Between January 2014 to May of that year, the total billed to the office for his meals was $2,043 which he later reimbursed to the city July 2014. And between January 2014 and February of 2015, he used office funds to pay for approximately $1,500 in weekend meals. Mr. Thompson paid back these expenses in August 2015. According to the New York Times, he reimbursed the funds quickly when he was informed that using office funds were possibly a violation of conflict rules.

The size and circumstances of Mr. Thompson's admitted dilemma are unusual in that he is the DA and that, relatively speaking, the sum of money is small by comparison to past conflict-of-interest cases. Other notable conflict-of-interest cases include Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was fined $20,000 for having accepted travel expenses for his wife's business trips to a foreign country. Markowitz was fined $20,000 for this conflict transgression, a penalty he called "unfair" because the gift of travel expenses was paid for by a country, not a business with interests before the city.

All Things Considered

Thompson appeared contrite when he said "I accept complete responsibility for this violation and regret that it occurred."

The Board noted Thompson's reimbursement of funds and weighed his "high level of accountability required of the chief prosecutor of Brooklyn."

It's clear that Thompson didn't intend to use office funds to bankroll a luxury lifestyle. According to a source familiar with the DA's eating habits, Mr. Thompson typically ate modest things such as "McDonald's, sandwiches, chicken and the occasional piece of salmon."

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