Michael Cherkasky, a Larchmont resident and former federal prosecutor, is once again being tapped to straighten out a high-profile mess. This time, Mr. Cherkasky has been asked by Governor David A. Paterson to take charge of the New York State Commission on Government Integrity. The commission’s executive director is accused of regularly and illegally sharing information with the subject of an ongoing investigation.
The commission was investigating, among other matters, charges that former Governor Eliot Spitzer and his aides used New York State troopers to gather information used to embarrass then-Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.
On Thursday, May 13, New York Inspector General Justice Joseph Fisch issued a report critical of the director, commissioners and the general counsel.
On the same day, Governor Paterson shook hands with Mr. Cherkasky and announced, “Today I am pleased to appoint a person of exemplary experience and unquestioned integrity” as the new chairman of the integrity commission. The governor is also seeking to replace all 13 commissioners.
Mr. Cherkasky’s sterling reputation was also a factor in 2004 when he stepped into the media klieg lights to replace the embattled CEO and chairman of Marsh & McLennan. “New leadership” was cited as one element that saved the insurance company from a threatened criminal prosecution by Mr. Spitzer, then the New York attorney general.
In 2001, Mr. Cherkasky was appointed court monitor to oversee an overhaul of the Los Angeles Police Department, which was under a federal consent decree to eliminate a pattern of abuse and misconduct.
And in the 1980s and 90′s Mr. Cherkasky made headlines as a federal prosecutor going after members of the Gotti and Gambino crime organizations.
“I’m honored to be asked by the governor to serve,” Mr. Cherkasky told the Gazette.
This is an unpaid position with at term that expires in September,” explained Mr. Cherkasky. After that, he expects to be appointed to a full five-year term. He will also continue with his current work as CEO of US Information Services, which supplies background checks for federal agencies.
And if he has any time left over?
“Any extra hours that I have in my day I put in my garden – this is clearly a setback,” he joked.