March 7, 2019 By Christian Murray
Richard A. Brown, who has been the Queens District Attorney since 1991, announced today that he will be stepping down June 1 due to ill health.
The announcement comes just two months after Brown, 86, said that he would not seek re-election and would finish his time in office at the end of the year.
“It had been my hope that I would be able to finish out this term in office,” Brown said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that is not to be. Given the current state of my health and my ongoing health issues, it has become increasingly difficult to fully perform the powers and duties of my office in the manner in which I have done since 1991.”
Brown announced that his Chief Assistant, John M. Ryan, would assume the role –effective June 1—until his term ends.
This year a new district attorney will be elected, with the Democratic primary scheduled for June 25.
The race has gained significant interest given the movement toward criminal justice reform and the fact that Brown was never challenged in a Democratic primary the entire time he was in office. Brown is the longest serving district attorney in Queens history.
Several candidates have announced they are running, including: Melinda Katz, Rory Lancman, Tiffany Caban, Mina Malik, Jose Nieves, Betty Lugo and Gregory Lasak.
Brown, a moderate Democrat, has overseen the office while crime has plummeted throughout the borough. In 1992, there were 341 murders in Queens, compared to 63 in 2018. In the past 25 years, serious crime in Queens is down 82.5 percent, according to his office.
“I thank the people of Queens for their much appreciated support over the years,” Brown said in a statement. “It has been my honor to serve you.