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Subpoenas to Help Investigator Answer Question: Who Knew What, and When?

Patti Singer

The office of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren likely will receive subpoenas in the independent investigation being commissioned by City Council. File photo

Subpoenas are expected to start going out by Sept. 21 after City Council voted unanimously on Sept. 18 to give the independent investigator the power to compel city government officials to say what they knew about the death of Daniel Prude and when they knew it.

The first batch is expected to go to the office of Mayor Lovely Warren, the Rochester Police Department, the city law department and City Council, said Andrew Celli Jr., who is leading the investigation at the request of council.

He said he will issue a public report in about three months.

When asked on Sept. 18 whether the mayor and former police chief La’Ron Singletary were going to receive subpoenas, he said those were likely candidates but he did not have a list to share. He said he would release the names of people receiving subpoenas unless there were an investigatory reason not to. He said anyone providing substantive information would testify under oath.

Celli said he is not looking into the interaction between Daniel Prude and police officers. Instead, he is investigating what was communicated afterward and, as he stated bluntly, was there a coverup?

He listed three parts to the investigation:

  • Establishing a timeline to determine the sequence of events.
  • Examining how people in government communicated with each other. He said it’s possible that people within the same office didn’t have the same information.
  • Examining what people in government said to the public and what did they actually know when they said what they did.

Celli said he will review documents such as emails, texts, memos and phone calls as well has gather testimony. Some of the documents were made public in the report from Deputy Mayor James Smith that was released Sept. 14. But by his own admission, Smith said he could conduct only a cursory review given time constraints and his position.

“Our job is ensure that Mr. Celli has unfettered access to any information he may need in order to issue his report,” she said Sept. 18.

Celli is a Rochester native, having grown up in the 10th Ward. City Council authorized a fee of up to $100,000 to his firm, Emery, Celli, Brinkerhoff, Abady, Ward and Maazel LLP of New York City.

Celli already represents City Council in the Police Accountability Board appeal, which is expected to be heard in the upcoming weeks. Council President Loretta Scott repeatedly has said the Prude investigation will be independent.

Scott set up a special two-person committee of Malik Evans and Michael Patterson to serve an administrative function, such as receiving any documents that are returned from the investigation.

“They are not going to participate in directing us or advising us,” Celli said. “We are not going to update them. That’s all at the request of President Scott. They want to be walled off in this investigation.”

Celli said his investigation is not civil or criminal.