Code Enforcement Officer In Rockland County Pleads Guilty
Attorney General Spitzer and Rockland County District Attorney Michael Bongiorno today announced that a Spring Valley official has pleaded guilty to coercing favors from a local businessman in exchange for issuing a permit needed for a development project.
Howard Hoehmann Jr., 45, appeared today before Judge Mary Smith in Rockland County Court and pleaded guilty to one count of Coercion in the First Degree, a Class D felony. In March 2003, Hoehmann was indicted for using his public office for personal gain. Today's guilty plea by Hoehmann resolves the charges contained in that indictment.
"Using public office for personal gain betrays the fundamental bond of trust between an office-holder and the public," said Attorney General Spitzer. "This prosecution should help restore the public's faith in those who serve it. I am pleased that my office was able to work effectively with District Attorney Bongiorno to bring this case to a close."
District Attorney Bongiorno said: "This case is important because it involves the successful prosecution of an office holder who violated the public trust. My office in committed to working with Attorney General Spitzer to prosecute cases like this to help restore peoples' faith in government."
Hoehmann is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9, 2004. Under the plea agreement it is expected he will be sentenced to:
- Sixty days in county jail;
- Five years' probation; and,
- Make restitution to a woman whose automobile he seized.
As a result of today's plea, Hoehmann will resign his government position effective this week.
Hoehmann's guilty plea stems from an incident in which he coerced local businessman Michael Datillo to hire a company owned by a relative to provide landscaping services at a Texaco service station Datillo was building at 68 East Route 59 in Spring Valley. In 1998 and 1999, Hoehmann repeatedly stopped by the construction site in his official capacity and threatened to issue a stop work order on the project if Datillo did not hire the landscaper, Curti Landscaping.
Out of fear for this project, Datillo hired the landscaper. Hoehmann later threatened to withhold the certificate of occupancy Datillo needed to open the service station until he paid the $14,000 landscaping bill. Most of the vegetation planted by Curti Landscaping at Datillo's Texaco station died and was not replaced despite a one-year guarantee.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Lynn Tabbott and Jeane Strickland Smith with the assistance of Investigators Cindy Trimble, Joseph Buffolino, Brian Ford and Roy Remington under the direction of Mark Peters, chief of the Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit. The case was handled in the Rockland County District Attorney's Office by Senior Assistant District Attorney William McClarnon.