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Republican William Ferris exits Suffolk DA race, backs Democrat Sini

A close up of a man with white hair.

An expected Republican primary for Suffolk district attorney failed to materialize Thursday as former prosecutor William Ferris exited the race against GOP designated candidate Ray Perini and endorsed Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, the Democratic candidate.

“Commissioner Sini and I are on the same page in restoring the integrity and professionalism of the district attorney’s office, as well as fighting to take the gangs, guns and drugs off the streets,” Ferris said.

In backing Sini, Ferris, 69, of Cutchogue, declined to comment on Perini, a former colleague when both served in the Suffolk district attorney’s office earlier in their careers. Ferris also wouldn’t say if he had mustered the minimum 2,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

“Am I disappointed I’m not the candidate, absolutely,” he said. “I enjoyed meeting people out there but I’m not a politician, I’m a prosecutor.”

Asked if he was interested in returning to the DA’s office himself, Ferris said, “that is a possibility,” but would require further discussions.

Ferris disclosed his endorsement after meeting Thursday afternoon with Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, and speaking by phone with Sini. He said the only GOP official he called was Peter McGreevey, chairman of the Southold Republican committee, who later declined to comment. John Jay LaValle, Suffolk Republican chairman, did not return calls for comment.

Perini said Ferris exited because “he couldn’t get the signatures for a Republican primary so he joined the [County Executive Steve]Bellone-Schaffer team, the political bosses who gave us a DA under investigation, and a police chief in federal prison.” As a candidate, Perini said, Ferris wrote on Facebook that Sini “failed the first ethical test” by telling county lawmakers he would not run for district attorney a year ago.

“He also created a website titled ‘Sini Lied,’ ” Perini said. “It’s obvious he expects to be working in that office . . . Tim Sini never prosecuted a state criminal action. He doesn’t have the experience to run a district attorney’s office.”

Sini said the endorsement of Ferris, the former Suffolk Bar Association president, “shows this is a campaign that transcends politics.”

He never discussed hiring Ferris if elected district attorney, Sini said, and the former prosecutor’s past attacks “do not matter. Politics is politics and I don’t have a thin skin.”

Elsewhere, Suffolk Republicans’ designated sheriff candidate, State Sen. Philip Boyle — criticized for lacking direct law enforcement experience — will face a three-way primary battle Sept. 12 as two former NYPD officers filed petitions Thursday to challenge him.

Lawrence Zacarese, now deputy chief of the Stony Brook University police, and retired NYPD sergeant Peter Krauss, of West Islip, filed their petitions with the Suffolk Board of Elections in Yaphank. The race will be the lone countywide primary and also requires a minimum of 2,000 signatures for a candidate to qualify.

Zacarese said he filed about 2,800 signatures while Krauss put his tally at about 2,500. Boyle also has the support of the Conservative and Independence Parties and filed about 12,000 GOP signatures.

A 23-year Albany veteran, Boyle has touted his experience heading a Senate committee on opioid abuse and his membership on the codes committee, which deals with all state criminal laws.

Smithtown Republican Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, 86, dumped by the town GOP committee, filed petitions as a challenger — for the first time since 1978 — against town board member Edward Wehrheim, the GOP designee. Wehrheim’s slate filed more than 1,600 signatures and Vecchio’s collected 1,471. A minimum of 500 signatures are needed to qualify for the ballot.