In one of the most egregious displays of political payback I have ever seen, District Attorney Joel Abelove did not contest a request by Rich Crist, a longtime Republican operative, to dismiss charges of harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
Crist was arrested for a July 11, 2014 incident involving his 17-year-old son, the culmination of a months-long disciplinary issue with the boy that included law enforcement. I’m told the kid took the family car for the night against the parents’ wishes and when Crist caught up with him in the parking lot of the Castleton Elementary School it became physical.
According to the Times Union, Child Protective Services determined there was nothing to warrant the violation harassment charges and the misdemeanor endangering charges stem from children who witnessed the incident in the parking lot of the Schodack school.
It was a weak case from the get go and the charges probably should have been dropped. But not by Abelove. Crist is one of the reasons Abelove beat Carmelo Laquidara for the seat he now holds.
As the TU astutely points out, Crist helped Abelove win the Independence Party primary. On that line, Abelove received 1,596 votes on Election Day. He won the election by 492 with 45,470 cast.
As such, Abelove should not have touched the case at all. But, Crist’s attorney, William Dryer, made a motion to dismiss the charges and Abelove didn’t challenge the motion in Sand Lake Town Court. The judge is not mentioned in the TU article but the case was bounced around a bit in an effort to find an objective jurist given Crist’s political activity in Rensselaer County. But there are two Democrats on the bench in Sand Lake.
Crist makes $95,000-plus in his official role as the legislative liaison for the Republican majority, a position he’s held for some two decades. He is also the GOP’s most prolific operative, is the party’s de facto chairman and has a consulting business on the side. In the past he has come under fire for allegedly doing political work out of the county office building using county staffers. He has worked as a consultant on a number of judicial and other races including those for statewide office and congress. He also serves as the Schodack Republican town chair.
There is no record of Abelove paying Crist for political work at the state Board of Elections but Abelove has not filed his January, 2015 disclosure statement yet either.
Abelove told the TU he saw no reason to recuse himself because most of the work on the case was done before he took office.
"And, he was not directly involved in heading my campaign," Abelove told the TU of Crist.
But Arthur Glass, who was acting DA until Abelove was sworn in on Jan. 1, said there should have been a special prosecutor appointed.
"You don't even want to give the impression of any impropriety," Glass to the TU.
Too late for that.