By Michael Gareth Johnson
In September, Queens Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak retired after 14 years on the bench. At the time, legal watchers speculated that the move was a precursor to his announcing a bid to be Queens District Attorney — replacing Richard Brown, who has said he is not running for re-election in 2019. This week, that speculation was borne out as the former assistant district attorney officially announced his bid for the seat.
Born and raised in Queens, Lasak started as an assistant district attorney after graduating from Queens College, rising to chief of the Homicide Bureau and executive assistant for the Major Crimes Division. In 2003, he was elected to the State Supreme Court. As an ADA, he pushed for overturning convictions against the wrongfully accused — which he made a cornerstone of his campaign announcement.
One of his top priorities is to make sure the office is more aware of the community’s needs.
“I would like to make the office more conducive to the community and have the assistant district attorneys go out to the various community organizations, schools and create a relationship with the individual precincts and community boards,” Lasak said.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so it is good to be able to possibly prevent something to happen, Lasak added. “So if the assistants are reaching out to the community, they will have a finger on the pulse and will be aware of situations that could escalate into a problem. I want the system to be proactive. I want the people to know they have a district attorney that is there for them.”
He also feels the office should reflect the ethnic diversity of the county, which would be a priority for him in terms of hiring. Another priority would be focusing on gang violence.
“The gangs are a continuing problem in the county. They are a continuing source of violent crimes. And I want to beef up the gang unit in the DA’s office and get some more seasoned veteran prosecutors in that unit.”
Lasak is the second Democrat to seek the seat after New York City Councilman Rory Lancman, who declared his intention to run for the office last month.