With a legal career spanning several decades as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, Michael Bongiorno, 67, is set to assume a new role as Clarkstown town justice. The Town Board confirmed his appointment on Tuesday night.
Bongiorno has announced his intent to vie for a four-year term in the upcoming elections on Nov. 7. He will be one of five candidates battling for three available seats on the court.
Justice courts in Clarkstown oversee a variety of legal matters, ranging from misdemeanor criminal cases and felony arraignments to civil disputes such as landlord-tenant issues, small claims, traffic tickets, and zoning violations. For 2023, the part-time town justice position comes with a salary of $93,063, as outlined in the town’s pay scale.
Michael Bongiorno, a member of the Republican party, will be succeeding Scott Ugell, also a Republican, who served as a town justice for 30 years. Ugell made headlines with his retirement announcement on June 25, following an investigation into potential misconduct by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Bongiorno is expected to don the judge’s black robes soon after being sworn in by Orangetown Justice Patrick Loftus. His regular court sessions are scheduled to commence in September.
Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann highlighted the keen competition for the position, noting that Bongiorno was selected on the strength of his commendable career and unwavering integrity. Hoehmann also emphasized the urgency of the appointment, stating that a third justice was essential to manage the growing case backlog since Ugell’s departure.
The board’s decision to appoint Bongiorno was not unanimous. In a vote of 3-1 with one abstention, Hoehmann, Michael Graziano, and Donald Franchino – all Republicans – were in favor. Democrat Patrick Carroll was the lone dissenting voice, while GOP Councilman Frank Borelli chose to abstain.