East Rockaway resident Lisa Daniels, the Democrat who challenged incumbent County Legislator Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) in the 7th Legislative District, said she filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Kopel and several others on Monday over a political flier that was mailed out last week.
Kopel denies he sent it.
The mailer claims that Daniels, an attorney, showed “poor judgment” when she served as a legal guardian of a 2-year-old boy, Charles Jonathan “C.J.” Gooch, while she represented the boy’s mother, Casina Gooch, in a yearlong custody battle in Nassau County Family Court between C.J.’s parents that ended in November 2012, when Casina was awarded custody of her son.
The boy died three months later. He fell off a bunk bed ladder and hit his head while in the care of a friend of Casina’s.
“I filed a defamation suit because I was defamed,” Daniels said. “No less than 10 different versions [of the flier] were sent to district residents, accusing me of poor judgment that led to the death of C.J. What they did was unacceptable. It was done maliciously and with intent to hurt me in this campaign and in my career. They should not have done that, and we will find out who did.”
“I didn’t send it,” said Kopel, acknowledging the campaign “turned very, very nasty.”
“It is not something from my campaign,” he added. “We didn’t write it, didn’t pay for it. It is not my style.”
In addition to Kopel, who won Tuesday election, the suit names the Nassau County Republican Committee; Kopel for Legislature; Robert Tice, treasurer of Kopel for Legislature; Challenge Graphics Services Inc.; CCC Consulting Group LLC; Anthony Brancato; and the East Rockaway Republican Committee.