Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch has filed a notice of claim with his employer.
The claim was filed on Friday, September 8th, citing an incident that took place on June 12th. That claim outlines communications between a Seneca County employee and a State Agency.
Both Seneca County and the employee, who is purported to be a probation officer, were named as defendants in the claim. Specifically, the claim outlines libel, slander and defamation of character, and references an attached email, which was not provided to FingerLakes1.com.
According to Porsch, who responded on Tuesday the notice of claim allows he and the county to discuss the issue at hand. “At the start of the campaign season, a low-level county employee made a false allegations against me to a State Agency. My goal in filing the notice of claim is to correct an ongoing problem the DA office has with this individual who is attempting to exceed her authority and influence the manner in which cases in Seneca County are prosecuted. Because she acted in her capacity as a county employee, I was forced to file a notice of claim with the County.”
Porsch added, “Furthermore, the law requires that a monetary amount be listed in the notice, but again I stress that I am NOT seeking any money. Instead, my goal is to assure the citizens that crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent, but in accordance with the laws and rules that govern my office.”
While the claim does not mean a lawsuit is taking place, it’s the first required step in the process of taking legal action against a governing body.
The total damages sought by Porsch in the claim is documented at $800,000.
Porsch concluded, “I am seeking an acknowledgement from the employee that what she did was wrong, and an assurance that it will not happen again. I am meeting this evening with the County Board of Supervisors and County Attorney where I expect the issue to be resolved.”
The entire document was released to local media less-than 24-hours before Tuesday’s primary race between Porsch and Joe Sapio, a former Fayette Town Judge.
On Monday, Sapio was critical of the claim — calling it disappointing.
“This type of behavior is the exact reason why I chose to run. I wasn’t recruited by any individual or party — it was behavior,” Sapio said in a statement to FingerLakes1.com on Monday evening.
Sapio referenced issues with the claim, including one he called a “contradiction” to the responsibility the District Attorney’s Office has to taxpayers. “For a person who has touted their campaign on saving taxpayers dollars, it seems deplorable that he’s asking for $800,000 from them, and suing a probation officer, as well.”
He continued, “It seems to contradict the notion that he is supportive of law enforcement, since filing a claim against one undermines the criminal justice system locally.”
In order for a claim like this one to have been filed, and hold up in court, it would have to be filed within 90 days of the incident. Since the incident took place on June 12th, the 90th day would have fallen over the weekend.
Read the entire notice of claim below below: