Nora Anderson, who is about to become Manhattans next Surrogate Court judge, was indicted Wednesday and charged with filing false campaign documents.
Winning Surrogate Judge candidate charged with felonies
Nora Anderson, who won the primary and general elections for New York County Surrogate and is to take office as one of Manhattans two Surrogate Court judges on Jan. 1, was indicted on Dec. 10 in connection with fundraising for her candidacy in the September Democratic primary.
At the same time, Seth Rubenstein, 81, head of the law firm where Anderson is an attorney, was also indicted for the same violations in connection with Andersons primary race.
The indictment by the Manhattan district attorney charges that two financial disclosure statements that Anderson for Surrogate had filed in August were false.
One statement said that Anderson herself had contributed $100,000 to her campaign on Aug. 20 and the other statement said that Anderson had loaned an additional $150,000 to her campaign.
The indictment says that Rubenstein was the true source of both the contribution and the loan.
Rather than make the loan directly to the campaign committee, Rubenstein transferred $150,000 from his personal account to Andersons personal account and Anderson wired the sum to the campaign committee, according to prosecutors. If Rubenstein had made the loan directly to the campaign, the campaign would have had to pay the loan back by Primary Day or be considered an over-the-limit contribution.
By law, there is no limit to a contribution or loan a candidate may make to her own campaign.
The indictment charges both defendants with four felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing, two felony counts of falsifying business records and two misdemeanor counts of violating the law that contributors true names must be used. The defendants also face two misdemeanor counts of violating the contribution limits of the election law.
Andersons attorney, Gustave Newman, told Downtown Express his client will be found innocent of any wrongdoing in a trial. Newman went on to say, This is not about any corruption or venality. Its a claim of violations of the election law. My client was deputy chief clerk of Surrogates Court for two years and chief clerk for two years after that. She has been practicing surrogate law in the city for the past 10 years and is fully qualified to be Surrogate.
Surrogate Court hears cases involving wills and the administration of estates of the deceased and cases involving adoption.
Rubensteins attorney, Frederick Hafetz, said, Mr. Rubensteins activities were totally within the election law. He has had a long and distinguished career and he will be vindicated in a trial.
By press time this week, it did not appear that the indictment would prevent Anderson from becoming Surrogate. District Attorney Robert Morgenthaus office said in its statement announcing the indictment that she is to take office on Jan. 1. However, after she is sworn in, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct would have jurisdiction.