Queens GOP looks for DA candidate 1

Defense attorney Joe Murray, left, could be the choice of the Queens GOP to run against Melinda Katz for district attorney in November. Former prosecutor and judge Greg Lasak, who finished third in the Democratic primary, will not seek a run on the Republican line.

The Republican Party is looking for a candidate to run against Borough President Melinda Katz in November’s race for district attorney.

Queens GOP Chairwoman Joann Ariola-Shanks has met with defense attorney Joe Murray, whom she considered “very qualified.”

Murray, who is based in Kew Gardens, told the Chronicle he thinks he’ll be the candidate and said, “I’m going to be a prosecutor like they’ve never seen before.”

He added, “I’m so sick of politicians pandering and lying to people just to please them.”

Although Murray considers himself a conservative Democrat, a supporter of labor who believes the Republicans to be anti-labor, he would still run under the Republican banner.

He said he’s “kind of liberal on criminal justice having felt the sting of the criminal justice system, and I’ve been in a position where I’ve actually had cops lie about what happened in my case.”

Murray, who was fourth vice president of the Jefferson Democratic Club in Flushing from 2009 to 2011, said he’s more libertarian when it comes to personal freedoms and believes maintaining privacy is critical.

He is a supporter of President Trump, saying he identifies with him.

“He’s not afraid who he pisses off and that’s kind of how I am,” Murray said.

Murray has his aim set on what he believes to be corruption in the government.

“I look at the Mayor’s Office and his wife embezzling money,” he said, referring to ongoing questions about funding for first lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC mental health program. “There’s money missing. This should never happen. Why isn’t anyone investigating this?”

The Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

And he would want a corruption squad to look into the Democratic primary results. The apparent winner on primary day turned out to have lost after a recount including absentee and affidavit ballots.

“I’m watching the results and Tiffany Cabán won by 1,100 votes,” Murray said. “She was so happy and they’re celebrating and then they go over to Melinda Katz. She looked like the cat that ate the canary, like she knew already she won. I was like, there’s something wrong there.”

Murray would also look into police corruption, and he is the attorney for Sgt. Steven Lee, who has filed a lawsuit against the city and the NYPD after he claimed he was harassed following his whistleblowing of wrongdoing in the 109th Precinct.

Murray said the idea to run for DA came as he watched the Democratic debates and believed many candidates were running too far to the left, though he supported former prosecutor and judge Greg Lasak.

Murray said he was happy that Cabán, a fellow defense attorney, was exposing issues in the system but that he was blown away by some of her “extreme” positions.

He did note there are protracted delays in the discovery process on evidence in court and how cases are moved along. Murray blames court congestion on the fact that people come to court for every appearance and are sometimes told there is no room. But, unlike Cabán, he is in favor of cash bail and prosecuting sex workers.

Murray thought about running in the Democratic primary before throwing his support behind Lasak and even trying to convince him to run on the Republican line in the general election.

Murray believes he can defeat Katz.

“I don’t owe anything to the party. I don’t owe anything to either party, actually,” Murray said. “And I’m running because in the position that I am in, I am so sick of politics as usual, corruption in the government.”

He joked about Queens being more liberal than Long Island.

“At least in Queens County they don’t like your client but they’re friendly with you,” he said. “When I go to Nassau and Suffolk, they don’t like us or our clients.”

Murray was a police officer in 1993 when he was arrested and charged with felony assault for breaking the jaw of another on-duty NYPD officer during a fight in a station house as he came to defend a high school friend, according to Murray. The friend was the brother of one of Murray’s high school football teammates at John Adams High School.

A grand jury refused to indict Murray and dismissed all charges. The NYPD still looked to fire him and he accepted a suspension without admitting guilt.

A civil lawsuit from the injured officer went to trial with Murray defending himself because of high debt from legal expenses. After a two-week trial in Manhattan Supreme Court the jury ruled in his favor, leading to his new career. He retired from the force in 2002 and went back to school, graduating from Queens College and the CUNY School of Law so he could become an attorney.

Lasak, who finished third in the Democratic primary, will not run on the GOP line.

“Greg Lasak, after much consideration, decided he did not want to go further in another race,” Ariola-Shanks said.

She added, “I think that Greg Lasak would have been an amazing candidate for DA but certainly the decision was his in the end.”

Daniel Kogan, who was given the GOP nomination in August, was nominated to the state Supreme Court.

“I think that he wanted it and then it became a much larger race than anyone could have imagined,” Ariola-Shanks said.

Murray and any other potential GOP candidates will make their case at an upcoming state committee meeting.

Ariola-Shanks also noted a couple of district leaders reached out saying they had candidates who would be interested but didn’t mention names.

Betty Lugo, who also ran in the Democratic primary but stated her possible interest in running as a Republican if she lost, was never seriously considered.

“Any of the candidates that were in the primary, but for Judge Lasak, certainly veered too far to the left to be considered by the Republican Party,” Ariola-Shanks said.


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