Sini Elected D.A., Sheriff Race Too Close to Call

Tim Sini
Tim Sini

Timothy D. Sini, a 37-year-old Demo­crat serving as the Suffolk County Police Commissioner, handily won the race for Suffolk district attorney Tuesday night, and said he would prepare quickly to take over an office marred by political scandal in the wake of federal charges brought last month against Thomas Spota, the longtime sitting D.A., and his top aide.

Mr. Sini won 62 percent of the vote over Raymond Perini, a Republican. Christopher Garvey, who ran on the Libertarian ticket, received 1 percent.

The race for county sheriff, however, remains to be determined. As of press time, with all 1,052 districts reporting, just 1,354 votes separated Errol D. Toulon Jr., the Democrat, and Lawrence M. Zacarese, the Republican. Both candidates had about 49 percent of the vote, with Mr. Toulon holding a razor-thin edge. Mr. Toulon received 141,006 votes; Mr. Zacarese, 139,652. A third candidate, Peter J. Krauss, who ran as a Libertarian, got 4,613 votes, or 1.6 percent.

Mr. Zacarese has not conceded the race and said it would come down to paper ballots. Nick LaLota, a Suffolk County Board of Elections commissioner, said in a tweet on Tuesday night that 13,554 absentee ballots are outstanding. Election officials do not expect all those ballots to be returned by the Nov. 14 deadline. They had to be postmarked by Election Day.

The Suffolk County sheriff runs the county’s two jails. Mr. Toulon, a 27-year resident of Lake Grove, joined the race only five weeks ago. Democrats switched candidates after Mr. Zacarese pulled out a win in the Republican primary. He only held one line in Tuesday’s election, while Mr. Toulon also ran on the Independence Party line.

Mr. Toulon had a 25-year career with the New York City Department of Correction, starting as a corrections officer and ending as a deputy commissioner of operations. Mr. Zacarese is the assistant chief of the Stony Brook University Police Department and a former New York City Police Department sergeant.

In his victory speech, Mr. Sini promised to restore trust in the district attorney’s office. “Together we have ushered in a new era in criminal justice in Suffolk County — an era of integrity, fairness, and doing the right thing,” he said. Mr. Sini, a former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, thanked voters for giving him “this awesome responsibility, this awesome privilege,” and promised to “return the office to the honorable institution it once was.”

Mr. Spota, a Democrat, and Christopher McParland, who runs the D.A.'s political corruption unit, are accused of being involved in a cover-up after James Burke, then Suffolk County police chief, assaulted a suspect in 2012. They have pleaded not guilty and are free on $500,000 bonds. Mr. Spota, 76, had previously chosen not to seek re-election. He has served four terms -- 16 years -- and is the longest-serving district attorney in county history. After his arrest on federal obstruction of justice charges, he announced he would resign after working out details of his retirement.

”Now is not the time to rest on our laurels,” Mr. Sini told his supporters. “It’s time to get to work. Those of us who stand for justice, morality, and doing the right thing need to do that work,” he said, adding that he plans to assemble “a top-notch transition team” that will do a full assessment of the district attorney’s office.