UPDATE (5/8/2019) – The Mike Korchak campaign issued the following release on Wednesday disputing Sheriff Harder’s characterization of Fred Akshar’s role in the Powell murder investigation.
A war of words has erupted between Republican District Attorney candidate Mike Korchak and Republican State Senator Fred Akshar over Akshar’s relationship with the mother of a murder victim.
Korchak, who is Broome County’s Chief Assistant District Attorney, held a news conference today following up on his criticism of the Senator following his admission that he had sexual relations with the mother of murder victim Mario Masciarelli.
Prior to being elected to the Senate, Akshar had been the captain of detectives with the Broome County Sheriff’s Office which investigated Masciarelli’s murder.
Akshar says the sexual encounter took place after Masciarelli’s killer, Aaron Powell, was convicted but before he was elected Senator.
However, Korchak says it was still subject to appeal and therefore an active case and that the relationship could have compromised any retrial that Powell was granted.
Korchak has asked the Broome County Legislature to draft rules and procedures prohibiting relations between investigating officers and victims, witnesses and informants while cases remain active and then ask local law enforcement agencies to adopt them.
Korchak says he’s always believed in putting victims first. “I haven’t backed off that in my 21 years of being a prosecutor and protecting victims. I haven’t backed off when threatened by gang members. I haven’t backed off when threatened by the family of the defendant. And I’m not going to back off now when threatened by a State Senator.”
For his part, Akshar posted a video response to his Facebook page over the weekend, calling Korchak’s criticism part of a concerted, politically-motivated smear attempt because the Senator has been a vocal supporter of Korchak’s opponent in the GOP primary, attorney Paul Battisti.
Akshar says, “It’s no coincidence that Ms. Masciarelli only elevated her attacks after my endorsement of Paul Battisti and one month before the primary for District Attorney. It’s no coincidence that Mike Korchak jumped on these new allegations hours after they were made for his own political gain. It’s no coincidence this is all occurring one month before my wedding.”
Akshar also asserts that no laws or codes of ethics were violated at any time.
Broome County Sheriff Dave Harder tells NewsChannel 34 that he would consider changes to the code of conduct for his employees but that nothing the legislature might pass would be binding on him as he is an independently elected official.
Harder, who has also publicly endorsed Battisti, calls Korchak’s attacks dirty politics and he corrected Korchak’s assertion that Akshar was the lead investigator on the Masciarelli case, saying that that role actually belonged to Detective Jason Ellis.
D.A. Candidate Battisti says, “Mike Korchak is the worst kind of politician. He’ll say or do anything to try to get elected. His blatant politicization is a perfect example of why we need principled new leadership at the District Attorney’s Office.”