Rockland DA race: Attorney Theresa DiFalco runs write-in campaign vs incumbent Thomas Walsh

“Attorney Theresa DiFalco, a former prosecutor and school board trustee, has thrown her name into a write-in campaign to unseat Rockland District Attorney Thomas Walsh.

DiFalco faces long odds of winning a write-in campaign against an incumbent prosecutor who holds both the Democratic and Republican ballot lines.

Fatal fire prosecution ignited opposition to DA

DiFalco has strong support from many firefighters and others angry with the DA Office’s agreement for a no-jail probationary sentence for two rabbis who caused the 2021 fatal fire at the Evergreen Court Home for Adults in Spring Valley.

Spring Valley firefighter Lt. Jared Lloyd, 35, the father of two boys, and adult home resident Oliver Hueston, 79, died in the March 2021 inferno.

More:Evergreen Court fire: Rabbis sentenced to probation amid outcry from family, firefighters

The rabbis, Nathaniel Sommer and his son, Aaron, reached a no-jail sentence with the District Attorney’s Office and County Court Judge Kevin Russo. Nathaniel faced state prison time on a guilty plea to two manslaughter counts while his son pleaded to reckless endangerment.

DiFalco didn’t return a telephone message to discuss her write-in campaign. But firefighters, including George Cicj of the Rockland Illegal Housing Task Force and former Rockland Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren Jr., worked to recruit her to run.

Walsh declined to comment on DiFalco’s write-in bid.

“I am focused on the continuing work of my office and ensuring the safety of Rockland County residents,” Walsh said in a statement released by his office.

Movement opposing Walsh takes flight

Walsh’s explanation of the sentencing didn’t soothe the simmering anger of firefighters, Lloyd’s family and other residents.

They noted Walsh’s office failed to get convictions on four others charged following an investigation into the fire. Two Spring Valley building inspectors, Wayne Ballard and Ray Canerio, were acquitted by Judge Kevin Russo on inspection paperwork charges unrelated to causing the fire. And two adult home employees saw charges dismissed in plea agreements as they testified before the grand jury.

More:Petition builds calling for DA’s resignation, but officials stop short of targeting Walsh

DiFalco’s advocates hope to parlay the discontent among several thousand county firefighters and voters angry with the prosecution.

Her campaign also is playing up the fact that Walsh is running unopposed with the two major party lines.

“With the candidacy of Ms. DiFalco that disgraceful failure of the democratic process in Rockland County has now been corrected,” her campaign supporters said in a release.

Walsh enters voting with overwhelming support from the influential Ramapo Orthodox community bloc vote — which has amassed 10,000 to 15,000 votes on election days.

Part of what the DiFalco campaign must do is raise interest in a write-in campaign and educate the public on write-in voting, including the importance of correctly spelling DiFalco’s name.

And her supporters will press her credentials, including years of community involvement and her experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney.

DiFalco’s background

Her resume includes:

  • Working for the Rockland District Attorney’s Office from 200 to 2007. She prosecuted sex crimes and helped establish Rockland’s first Domestic Violence Court and the Child Advocacy Center at Good Samaritan Hospital for victims of abuse.
  • Serving as a Rockland Public Defender’s Office intern.
  • Serving on the Suffern Central Board of Education for two, three-year terms starting in 2012, including serving as president.
  • Serving in the Law Enforcement Division of the Hudson Valley Humane 
  • Read the complete Journal News coverage here.