If Joe Hynes owns a cape, it's pretty dirty.
In a different time, Charles J. Hynes was looked upon as a law-enforcement superhero, summoned by a governor’s bat signal to swoop in and seek justice for the killing of Michael Griffith, a black man who was chased out of a Queens pizzeria to his death on the Belt Parkway in 1986.
After witnesses refused to cooperate with the Queens District Attorney, Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Hynes to be a special prosecutor in the case – and Hynes ended up getting three men convicted of manslaughter in the infamous case.
Howard Beach made Hynes a New York winner. A former fire commissioner with Irish-American roots, he was a natural fit for Brooklyn District Attorney when the job opened up in 1989.
And his early tenure was filled with success – revamping an office that was in much need of modernization targeting domestic violence and creating a program that pushed drug treatment for addicts rather than incarceration. But like many district attorneys, Hynes stayed on far too long. Accusations of cronyism almost cost him his job in a close primary in 2005. Rather than reading the handwriting on the wall, Hynes dug in.
His last stand – an unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2013 – was an ugly one. Federal prosecutors investigated Hynes for allegedly spending$219,000 seized from drug dealers and other defendants on a political consultant but ultimately filed no charges.
It was a different story yesterday when the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board fined Hynes $40,000 for using his office as his unofficial campaign headquarters, mixing his law-enforcement business with politics. It’s what critics said Hynes had been doing for years.
Hynes suffered a stroke in 2016 and I’m told he now spends much of his time in Breezy Point, the all-white, gated community on the West End of the Rockaways. In the middle of the night, it’s just a short drive to Howard Beach.