A.G. Schneiderman Arrests Former Senior State Official On Sexually-Based Harassment Charges

Defendant James Ferro Accused Of Harassment, Forcible Touching, Official Misconduct, And Coercion

ALBANY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has charged and arrested James Ferro, formerly the Director of Operations with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s Special Investigations Unit, over accusations of sexually-based harassment of a subordinate employee. Ferro faces one charge of Forcible Touching, one count of Official Misconduct, one count of Coercion in the Second Degree, and one count of Harassment in the Second Degree. Ferro faces a maximum penalty of two years of incarceration.

“Every New Yorker is entitled to a workplace that is free of harassment and where they are treated with dignity and respect,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Those who abuse a position of public trust by engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct towards a subordinate must be held accountable.”

“The defendant is charged with serious crimes, committed against his own employees, engaging in assaulting, bullying behavior,” said New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott. “The defendant’s responsibilities were to oversee investigations of misconduct, and yet he allegedly used his power and authority to commit outrageous offenses against his own employees. Until we commenced our investigation, they felt powerless to stop the abuses. No one should have to go to work every day knowing they will be victimized. The alleged behavior by the defendant is deplorable and will not be tolerated. My investigation will continue, holding accountable those who were either aware of and condoned such criminal acts, or were complicit in them.”

The charges brought by Attorney General Schneiderman’s Office allege that on or about February 17, 2012, the defendant intentionally grabbed the genitals of the subordinate for the purpose of degrading and abusing the employee and for the purpose of gratifying the defendant’s sexual desire. Following this event, the employee complained to the defendant’s supervisor about the forcible touching. It is alleged that as a form of retaliation against the subordinate, on or about April 23, 2012, the defendant retaliated by altering the employee’s work schedule and prohibiting the employee from earning overtime.

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the State Inspector General’s Office revealed that this alleged conduct is part of a broader pattern of harassment by the defendant. Between in or about January 2008 through in or about March 2014, the defendant allegedly engaged in a course of conduct and repeatedly committed acts upon the subordinate employee. Alleged behavior includes kissing and hugging the employee, touching the employee’s genitals, striking the defendant’s knuckles or knees with a kubaton, touching the informant’s shoulder, and the defendant touching his own genitals and then placing his hand in the subordinate’s face while asking the employee to smell his hand.

All misconduct is alleged to have occurred at the Department of Correctional Service and Community Supervision, Harriman Campus, Building 2, in Albany.

The Attorney General’s Office thanks State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott and her staff for their work on this case. Their invaluable assistance allowed for charges to be brought in this case.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Bridget Holohan-Scally of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau with support from Investigator Dennis Tomasone and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort. The Public Integrity Bureau is part of the Division of Criminal Justice led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.

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