Southern Brooklyn Council Member Chaim Deutsch has been expelled from the City Council, days after he pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson cited the state’s Public Officers Law, arguing that Deutsch’s crime amounted to a violation of his oath of office and therefore required that his seat be vacated.
“Based on our review of the charging document and Mr. Chaim Deutsch’s plea deal, the Council has concluded that the office of the 48th Council District has been vacated under operation of the law,” Johnson said. “Mr. Deutsch confessed to a crime and violated his oath of office. He is no longer a member of the City Council.”
The decision was a reversal from statements released by the Council shortly after news of the plea deal emerged late last week, when the Council said they were considering stripping Deutsch of committee assignments but did not believe the law required his removal from office.
From 2013 through 2015, Deutsch’s failure to properly pay taxes on income from his private real estate business enabled him to evade approximately $82,076 in taxes. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the IRS and the city’s Department of Investigation jointly announced Deutsch’s guilty plea on Thursday.
By Wednesday morning, Deutsch’s bio had already been removed from the Council’s website.
After the news initially broke, Deutsch resisted calls to resign. In a new statement released Wednesday morning, Deutsch’s attorney criticized the Council’s decision to expel him.
“Councilman Deutsch is evaluating all of his legal rights and options in the face of this sudden decision by the Speaker,” the attorney, Henry Mazurek, said. “It is a sad day when those in charge think it is better to keep an empty seat in City Council than to give continued voice to Mr. Deutsch’s constituency.
“Mr. Deutsch did the right thing by admitting his mistakes and accepting responsibility,” Mazurek continued. “This is more than most who have served in the City Council.”
Deutsch’s 48th Council District includes portions of Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach. He would have been forced out of office at the end of the year under the city’s term-limits law.
Candidates running to fill the seat include Shorefront Coalition founder and special education teacher Steven Saperstein; former Deutsch staffer Mariya Markh; radio host Heshy Tischler; litigation attorney Binyomin Bendet; nonprofit CEO Amber Adler; and attorney Inna Vernikov.