O'Hara lawsuit delayed

Lawyer for Soares says extension was requested for political reasons

Albany Times-Union/August 22, 2012

ALBANY - A federal judge agreed Wednesday to delay making a decision on whether to toss Colonie attorney Joseph O'Hara's lawsuit against District Attorney David Soares, an extension an attorney for Albany County suggested was requested for political reasons.

The lawsuit alleges Soares wrongly allowed a staffer from the self-improvement company NXIVM to work in the district attorney's office to help build a grand larceny case against O'Hara that was later tossed.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gary Sharpe granted O'Hara a 90-day extension because of the plaintiff's reported medical condition, but noted he would only permit further delays under "extraordinary circumstances."

On Aug. 14, O'Hara sent Sharpe a letter asking to postpone the case for 90 days because of "various medical problems" that have kept him from responding in a timely manner. O'Hara offered to share his medical information with the judge as long as it was not shared with anyone else.

Assistant County Attorney Adam Giangreco replied to Sharpe on Aug. 16 asking the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which he described as "wholly frivolous and without merit."

He noted O'Hara, who is representing himself, blew off two court deadlines over two months without saying a word to the judge about his intentions, which is required. Giangreco argued this was done to "prolong the inevitable for another three months."

Soares faces Albany attorney Lee Kindlon in a Democratic primary on Sept. 13. Giangreco, who represents Soares and the county, suggested the election was a motivating factor for O'Hara to try to keep the suit alive.

"Defendants think it is not necessarily coincidental that plaintiff marshals this effort for an additional extension through the re-election campaign for Albany County District Attorney David Soares, making this matter history no earlier than after the 2012 general election," Giangreco stated.

The judge rescheduled the hearing for January.

In February, O'Hara filed a more than $15 million lawsuit against leaders of NXIVM - where he was once a top adviser - and more than 30 defendants, including Soares and Albany County, on allegations they engaged in a civil conspiracy to harm him. O'Hara's suit alleged he was retaliated against for being a whistle-blower and that defendants willfully maligned him, violated his civil rights and caused him severe emotional, physical, mental and financial distress,

O'Hara's suit alleged that Soares allowed NXIVM aide Kristin Keeffe to work as a "legal intern" in his office between Oct. 1, 2006 and Feb. 28, 2007. O'Hara contends he was indicted in Albany for allegedly diverting funds from NXIVM donors based on "false and misleading" information given to Soares' office.

In March, Soares said that five years ago he allowed Keeffe to spend weeks in the district attorney's office to work on the grand larceny case against O'Hara, but that she was not an intern. He said such arrangements are not uncommon in financial cases.

The case was later dismissed.

O'Hara is now facing a federal indictment in Texas accusing him of conspiracy in a bribery and kickback scheme.

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