Queens’ top prosecutor District Attorney Richard Brown passed away on Friday at the age of 86, which was less than two months ahead of his plan to officially step down on June 1 – the 28th anniversary of his appointment as DA.
In January, Brown had announced that he would not seek re-election as district attorney due to problems connected with his Parkinson’s disease, according to Chief ADA John Ryan who has been exercising the duties of the DA’s office since March 7.
“Judge Brown – as he has long been affectionately called – was a public servant like no other,” said Ryan. “He topped a spectacular judicial career and was appointed the district attorney of Queens County in 1991 by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo. He was proud to serve the millions of people of Queens for nearly 28 years and was re-elected to seven terms in office.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the son of the governor who appointed Brown to his DA position, offered words of condolences to the family of the district attorney and appreciation for his service to Queens.
“My father recognized Judge Brown’s brilliance when he appointed him to serve as Queens County District Attorney and 27 years later was proven right. Judge Brown fought successfully to create safer neighborhoods and reduce crime in his borough. He took on the scourge of opioid addiction, fought to protect domestic violence victims, worked to end human trafficking and so much more,” said Cuomo. “We are forever indebted to Judge Brown for his service to this state; he will be sorely missed.
On behalf of the entire family of New York, I extend my deepest condolences to Judge Brown’s loved ones during this incredibly difficult time, especially his wife Rhoda, his three children and his two grandchildren.”
During Brown’s tenure, he created the state’s first Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts and Veterans Courts while hiring people to his office based on merit instead of political connections, according to Ryan.
“Together with his law enforcement colleagues throughout New York City, Judge Brown contributed greatly to making this City the safest big city in the nation,” said Ryan.
Representing the law enforcement officers who will greatly miss Brown was The Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.
“The people of Queens have lost a great protector with the passing of District Attorney Richard Brown,” said Lynch. “Judge Brown upheld the law with courage and defended the vulnerable with strength and compassion. Queens and our entire city are safer because of his leadership. Our hearts are with his family, friends and the dedicated staff of the Queens DA’s office. New York City police officers will continue to work every day to build upon Judge Brown’s legacy.”
Brown followed up his other programs with the Domestic Violence Bureau, the Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Animal Cruelty Unit and his last program as DA was the Queens Treatment Intervention Program (Q-TIP), which was created to address the scourge of opioid addiction by providing a second chance for addicts to avoid criminal prosecution and to save lives, according to Ryan.
Throughout the weekend candidates for the Queens District Attorney’s Office offered their condolences to their would-be predecessor.
“The Borough of Queens mourns the loss of a lifelong public servant,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “We reflect on and honor Judge Brown’s extraordinary devotion and distinguished service to the people of Queens. I will forever and fondly remember his kindness to me and to my entire family throughout the years.”
Another candidate, City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) offered his words of condolences too.
“I am saddened to learn of Judge Brown’s passing,” said Lancman. “Judge Brown dedicated his life to public service, and he was deeply committed to the people of Queens. My thoughts are with Judge Brown’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Jose Nieves, a former prosecutor also issued a statement.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the family of District Attorney Richard Brown and the staff in the Queens District Attorney’s Office,” said Nieves. “District Attorney Brown dedicated his career to public service for this City and County and served honorably.”
Former prosecutors Mina Malik and Greg Lasak had also issued their condolences to Brown over the weekend as well.
“Judge Brown was exceedingly proud of his granddaughters Leah, who is entering her last year at West Point, and Alana, who will start her first year at West Point in September,” said Ryan.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.