Election 2021: Sini, Tierney, vie for Suffolk’s District Attorney job

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, who’s been at the center of several high-profile East End cases in recent years, is seeking reelection to a four-year term in the Nov. 2 election. He’s being challenged by Ray Tierney, a former federal prosecutor who has been critical of Mr. Sini’s handling of recent drug overdoses on the North Fork.

Mr. Sini, 41, of Babylon, is a Democrat. Mr. Tierney, 55, of Holtsville, is not affiliated with a party but is running on the Republican and Conservative lines.

Mr. Sini said his accomplishments in his four years as DA include: arresting nearly 100 MS-13 members, indicting six drug dealers responsible for fatal overdoses and reducing levels of “index crimes” such as murder, manslaughter, burglary, rape, robbery and assault by “historic levels.”

Mr. Tierney said he feels Mr. Sini has been handed positions by political leaders.

“I have a depth of experience and I’m completely independent,” Mr. Tierney said.

Mr. Sini pointed to his efforts to combat the MS-13 gang and said he “restored integrity to the leadership of the department” when he became commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department. He noted that one of the first briefings he received at that time was from the chief of detectives, who said several young Latino boys were missing and likely victims of homicide.

That, he said, is when they developed an anti-gang strategy against MS-13.

“I realized that if we really wanted to enhance public safety and move the criminal justice system forward in the right direction, we had to reform the DA’s office. That’s why I ran,” Mr. Sini said.

Mr. Tierney said he tried several MS-13 murder cases during his tenure as a prosecutor.

“In total, I prosecuted, investigated and indicted over 50 murders committed by MS-13 gang members,” he said.

He said he also handled Colombian cartel cases and political corruption cases involving the Republican, Democratic and Conservative parties.”

“We convicted them and made them pay back the money,” he said, adding that he was asked to run for DA because of his record.

Mr. Tierney said Mr. Sini was never a police officer prior to becoming commissioner and never prosecuted cases while a prosecutor.

“At least none that I could find,” Mr. Tierney said.

Mr. Sini disputed that notion.

“I don’t even known what that means,” he said. “If he means as district attorney, you don’t prosecute cases yourself when you’ve got over 200 assistant district attorneys who try cases.”

He said if Mr. Tierney is referring to the years before he became DA, he is wrong. 

“I prosecuted hundreds of criminals,” Mr. Sini said.

Mr. Sini said Mr. Tierney will be beholden to political leaders who got him a job at OTB, where he works as chief counsel for compliance and enforcement at the OTB casino. 

Mr. Tierney said that when he was asked to run for DA, he had to resign from the Brooklyn DA’s office, and he took the OTB job because he still had four kids, a wife and a mother-in-law to support. 

“I couldn’t afford to take seven months off,” he said.

After six people died in August from fentanyl-laced cocaine, two men were arrested in connection to those crimes. Mr. Tierney placed blame on Mr. Sini in the weeks after those arrests by saying he failed to prosecute both men for prior offenses that could have prevented the fatal overdoses.

“This failure endangered the lives of Suffolk residents,” Mr. Tierney said in September. “It’s time Mr. Sini actually did his job as a prosecutor, rather than covering his tracks with press conferences.”

Mr. Sini has countered that the overdoses could not have been prevented and the suspects would have been released if they had been arrested earlier because the charges would not have warranted bail.