State Supreme Court Justice Vito Caruso tapped Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen to investigate a May 19 incident involving Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy.
Caruso signed an order on Friday evening appointing Heggen, a Republican, as the special prosecutor in the case, Caruso’s office said on Monday.
Heggen has “all power and authority to assist in the investigation of and to prosecute and dispose of or to designate one of her assistants to prosecute and dispose of any criminal or vehicle and traffic charges that may result therefrom,” the order signed by Caruso states.
Heggen was out of the office on Monday due to illness and could not be reached for comment.
McCarthy, a Democrat re-elected for a second term in November, followed a motorist and her friend through the city streets in a bizarre middle-of-the-night pursuit that ended at police headquarters. The woman says McCarthy was drunk and intimidating while McCarthy says she was in the wrong.
Heggen was sworn in as district attorney in Saratoga County in December 2014. She succeeded James Murphy III, who is now a County Court judge. Heggen has worked in the district attorney’s office since 1993.
Caruso said on Friday that he initially asked Montgomery County District Attorney Jed Conboy to conduct the investigation, but Conboy declined, pointing to his imminent departure at the end of the year.
The Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office will not be involved in the investigation. McCarthy worked as an investigator alongside District Attorney Robert Carney for more than 20 years.
Carney sent Councilman Vince Riggi’s letter calling for an outside investigation, along with a Daily Gazette article and editorial, to Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Michael Coccoma on Thursday.
Coccoma signed an order on Friday empowering Caruso to make the decision.
McCarthy followed Sarah Dingley, 38, of Rotterdam, and her friend in their vehicle from Lexington Avenue, where the mayor lives, to Schenectady Police Headquarters on Liberty Street.
Dingley called 9-1-1 shortly after 1 a.m. reporting that a man, who identified himself as the mayor, was following her and flashing his lights and that he was intoxicated. Dingley said she was driving home from a friend’s house on Nott Street before she spotted McCarthy following her.
McCarthy said he was taking out the garbage when he saw Dingley and her friend either picking up garbage, breaking in cars or doing drugs. McCarthy said he was not intoxicated.
Schenectady police questioned McCarthy and the two women separately after they arrived at the station. Details of their discussions are unclear. Police have declined comment. No charges were filed, there is no police report and a Breathalyzer test was not given.
The probe by Heggen’s office will investigate the actions of McCarthy, Dingley and the Schenectady police officers. Details of the investigation are unclear at this time.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County