Neuhaus vetoes forfeiture law

County executive cites potential threat to innocent families

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  • Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, left, speaks with Orange County legislator Jeffrey Berkman (D-Middletown), center, and two county residents who opposed the law at a public hearing earlier this week. (Photo by Nathan Mayberg)

  • Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus. (Photo by Nathan Mayberg)

"Enacting a law which could, for instance, permit the seizure of a parent's car if their child errs, even substantially, is troubling to me and many of our residents."
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus

By Nathan Mayberg

— Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus has vetoed a controversial law that would have allowed the district attorney's office to seize cash, cars and other property in misdemeanor drug cases.

The law, proposed by county District Attorney David Hoovler, had Neuhaus' support early on. Neuhaus vetoed the law on Jan. 2 following a public outcry against the measure.

The law brought out dozens of speakers against the measure at two public hearings held by Neuhaus.

Neuhaus cited the potential harm the law could bring to families as a primary reason for his veto.

"Enacting a law which could, for instance, permit the seizure of a parent's car if their child errs, even substantially, is troubling to me and many of our residents," Neuhaus stated in a veto letter addressed to county legislators.

"First, even a temporary seizure of vehicle with a plan to ultimately sell it, when such a vehicle is not owned by the actual criminal defendant, can force some Orange County families into poverty who depend on this transportation to earn a living," Neuhaus wrote.

He continued to say that "the legislature’s concept to punish criminals who threaten public safety is something I am supportive of; still, the measure’s final result leaves open the possibility of affecting innocent individuals. Moreover, the fact that revenue would largely go toward growing the size of government, rather than exclusively preventing future criminal activity, is troubling to many."

In a press release sent out by Neuhaus' spokesperson, Dain Pascocello, Hoovler is quoted as stating his office "will continue to pursue every opportunity to provide our law enforcement with additional tools to combat public safety issues that put our communities at risk. I understand the County Executive’s assessment of the current measure and I look forward to working with him, Sheriff DuBois, and every law enforcement agency in Orange County to aggressively prosecute criminal activity in the future."

Neil Meyer of Wallkill, who had spoken out against the law at several county meetings, said he was "very pleased" with the veto and thanked Neuhaus for "listening to public comments and our concerns."

The law passed the legislature 12-9, with not enough votes to overturn the veto. A veto override would require 14 votes. Earlier in the week, Republican legislator Paul Ruszkiewicz announced that he had reversed his support of the law.
The legislature's chair, Stephen Brescia, criticized Neuhaus' reversal after fellow Republicans extended themselves to support the law.

Reporter Nathan Mayberg can be reached at or by calling 845-469-9000 ext. 359.

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