Evidence seized from federal judge’s NY home in son’s secret sex-tape case

Gun Rights

Thomas McAvoy, 84, is a long-time jurist who has served in high-ranking positions in New York’s Northern District, a wide-ranging judicial district that runs from the Pennsylvania line to the Canadian border in the eastern part of the state. A former private attorney and Broome County legislator, he was appointed to his current role 36 years ago at the recommendation of then-U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato.

At no point is Thomas McAvoy mentioned in any of the publicly available court documents associated with his son’s case. The records do not make any suggestion, one way or the other, if he was aware of his son’s alleged conduct.

During her client’s arraignment, Kirshner confirmed prosecutors executed search warrants at both Daniel McAvoy’s home and his parents’ homes. Court records show one of the searches took place at an East 89th Street apartment where some of the illegal recording is alleged to have happened. The other search took place at a Town of Kirkwood property that Judge McAvoy has owned since at least 1964, according to Broome County records.

One document — known as an automatic discovery form — lists all of the items that were seized from the judge’s Kirkwood home and his son’s Manhattan apartment.

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In Kirkwood, authorities took the hard drives, DVDs, CDs, a Dell desktop computer, an electronic notebook and miscellaneous items, including a AAA membership card. Most of the DVDs labeled with sexually-explicit terms appear to have been seized at Judge McAvoy’s home, according to evidence records.

At Daniel McAvoy’s East 89th Street apartment, they seized at least four hard drives and a USB thumb drive, four SD cards, three camcorders, two GoPro cameras, a “Smart Wifi Camera,” and various electronics — including a laptop, Nintendo systems, an iPad and an iPhone. The district attorney’s office also seized a “white powdery substance” in a container, a variety of pills, and two pellet guns with cartridges at the Manhattan residence, according to court records.

The court documents do not make clear exactly when the searches took place. During the September 7th arraignment, Kirshner said the searches had occurred “about a month ago.”

Judge McAvoy has heard cases in Albany and Binghamton, where he maintains his chambers. From 1993 to 2000, he was the Northern District’s chief judge. He became a senior judge in 2003, a semi-retired status that allows a federal jurist to take on a reduced caseload.

He has ruled in thousands of issues over his decades as a judge, including a 1997 civil case in which he sided with boxer Mike Tyson in a multi-million-dollar dispute with his former trainer.

In 1995, the judge ruled then-Gov. George Pataki couldn’t withhold paychecks from thousands of legislative employees when the state budget was late. And he’s presided over major cases involving the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco empire and the National Rifle Association.

Daniel McAvoy, meanwhile, was released without bail ahead of his trial, because the felonies he was charged with are not eligible for bail under state law. But Judge Rodney did order him into supervised release, which requires McAvoy to submit to two check-ins a month — one by phone, one in person.

McAvoy is next due in court December 1st.

Christopher Werth contributed reporting.

Do you have more information on this story? Email our investigative reporting team at cwerth@wnyc.org or using the encrypted messaging app Signal at 646 939 6511

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