Former Westchester Prosecutor Faces Lawsuit While Campaigning for District Attorney

White Plains, New York – A former Westchester prosecutor, Adeel Mirza, is running for District Attorney despite facing disciplinary action and a federal lawsuit over his alleged interaction with a female subordinate. While Mirza insists that the woman’s claim of sexual assault is fabricated, he remains determined to pursue his campaign for the elected DA position in the county.

In early 2020, Mirza was docked five vacation days and removed from the DA’s hiring committee after rookie prosecutor Bianca Brown’s claims about his conduct were deemed credible by top officials under then-District Attorney Anthony Scarpino. Although Mirza remained in his position as deputy bureau chief in charge of the Greenburgh branch office, he was let go when Mimi Rocah assumed the role of DA a year later.

Brown, who is African-American, filed a lawsuit in 2022 accusing Mirza of sexual and racial harassment, as well as alleging racial discrimination and retaliation by the office. The suit also names Westchester County, Rocah, Scarpino, and two other prosecutors as defendants. While the case is still pending, last week a judge dismissed several claims against Rocah, Scarpino, and the county.

Mirza had already registered a campaign committee with the state Board of Elections in September, prior to Rocah’s announcement that she would not seek a second term. He officially launched his campaign last week, highlighting his prosecutorial experience. Other Democrats vying for the party nomination include former Westchester County Judge Susan Cacace, civil rights attorney William Wagstaff, and public defender Sheralyn Pulver Goodman. So far, no Republicans have announced their candidacy.

According to Brown’s lawsuit, Mirza pressured her to go out for drinks and sent her numerous harassing text messages after she was hired in November 2019. Brown claims that during a restaurant meeting shortly after she started working, Mirza made racially and sexually inappropriate comments, attempted to ply her with drinks, and indicated that she should stick with him if she wanted to advance in the office. Brown further alleges that Mirza put his arm around her waist, touched her buttock, and asked why she was afraid of him when she tried to leave.

In response to these allegations, Mirza’s lawyer, Richard Portale, maintains that Brown did not accuse Mirza of any physical contact at the time and that the accusation only surfaced a year later when legal action was pursued. Mirza admits to one mistake – showing Brown his evaluation – which he claims was simply part of their conversation about her job.

The discipline faced by Mirza, which included the loss of five vacation days and removal from the hiring committee, was acknowledged and accepted by him, according to a January 2020 memo obtained through a Freedom of Information request. Mirza’s lawyer contends that the disciplinary action was unrelated to the sexual harassment allegations raised by Brown.

The Westchester DA’s Office declined to discuss the case, citing the pending litigation, but confirmed that Mirza’s dismissal was based on the memo obtained through the Freedom of Information request. Brown’s attorney, Derek Sells, reaffirms the allegations made in the lawsuit, stating that Mirza sexually assaulted her and that the internal personnel decision does not hold him accountable for his conduct.

The lawsuit also alleges that Brown experienced retaliation following her complaint, including unfavorable work assignments and reprimands. She was eventually transferred to a different branch office and claims that she was further retaliated against when she reported her supervisor for covering up exculpatory information. Brown asserts that her termination came after Rocah asked her to resign and she refused.

Mirza asserts his innocence and has discussed the lawsuit with local Democratic committees, emphasizing that he has been wrongly accused. While acknowledging the political risks associated with supporting a candidate facing such allegations, party leaders are set to select a nominee on February 13.

In conclusion, Adeel Mirza, a former Westchester prosecutor, faces an uphill battle as he pursues the district attorney position amid a federal lawsuit and allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. While Mirza maintains his innocence, the pending litigation and the claims made by the plaintiff, Bianca Brown, add layers of complexity to the campaign. The Democratic Party will navigate the political risks associated with supporting Mirza as they select a nominee next month.