New York City’s law enforcement community lost a leader last week when Lawrence Festa, chief investigator for the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, died suddenly at age 64.
Festa served 27 years with the NYPD, retiring as a lieutenant in 1997 to join Brown’s staff as an investigator. His assignments in the NYPD included the Organized Crime Control Bureau. He became chief investigator for Brown in 2003.
“Chief Festa successfully conducted and supervised many difficult and challenging investigations for this office,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “And he always did so with the true professionalism and a diplomatic demeanor that earned him the respect of his peers and subordinates. We owe Larry a debt of gratitude for his years of service to this office and the people of Queens County.”
Anthony Como, a former assistant district attorney and city Councilman, now practices criminal defense. He worked with Festa in all three capacities. He said he was fortunate to call Festa a friend.
“What a gentleman!” Como said Tuesday. “He was an absolutely dedicated public servant. He cared 110 percent, serving the public and serving the Queens District Attorney’s office. It didn’t matter if you were a low-level prosecutor or a senior assistant ADA who had been around for years. His door was always open. He was always ready to give advice to see that justice was done.”
He said Festa would handle many cases personally, and that the two worked on several cases together, some of them high profile, when he was an assistant district attorney.
Como said Festa’s door remained open when as a Councilman he would refer a constituent complaint or concern that he felt was suited for the District Attorney’s office to examine. He said it was no different when Como entered private practice and became a defense attorney.
“You’ll notice I said ‘He made sure justice was done; not ‘He made sure the prosecutor got a conviction.’ When, as a defense attorney, I would bring certain matters to his attention, they would be investigated.” He said Festa’s staff did not shy away from evidence which might help or exonerate the accused.
Como also said he was one of the lucky people to be extended an invitation to join Festa, an avid fisherman, on his boat.
“I never went because I always get seasick,” he said. “But he had a lot of pictures of himself on his boat and some of the fish he caught.”
Festa’s survivors include his wife, Pat. His funeral took place Tuesday at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hempstead, LI, followed by burial at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.