The prosecutor formerly involved in the widely publicized animal-cruelty case against Beth Lynne Hoskins was fired from his job with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office late last week.
The exact reason for Friday afternoon’s termination of Assistant District Attorney Matthew A. Albert remained unclear. However, it’s believed to be related to a relationship he maintained with an SPCA employee connected to the case and accusations that the nature and duration of that relationship were previously misrepresented in court.
The revelation, made by Albert himself, overshadowed Monday afternoon’s anticipated verdict in Hoskins’ criminal case before Aurora Town Justice Douglas W. Marky – who reserved judgment until next week – and was the latest in a bizarre three-year running saga involving Hoskins, the SPCA Serving Erie County and law enforcement authorities.
“I’ve done my job honestly and ethically for 5½ years,” Albert said, contending that he is being unfairly characterized as “a liar” by not only Hoskins’ defense team, but now also by his own former employer for stating that his personal relationship with SPCA employee Alex A. Cooke had previously terminated.
That relationship, which blossomed following their meeting during the criminal case against Hoskins alleging she mistreated animals at her Emery Road farm, formed the basis for an earlier defense motion to dismiss the 74 misdemeanor animal-cruelty counts on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.
Prosecutors instructed the court that the relationship between Albert and Cooke had ended in March, and Marky rejected the defense motion for dismissal.
Late last week, however, a retired FBI agent hired by Hoskins as a private investigator surveilled Cooke and Albert and uncovered photographic evidence from last week suggesting a possible rekindling of that relationship. That’s something that Albert continues to steadfastly deny.
“We broke up in March,” Albert told reporters outside the courtroom Monday, explaining that Cooke had come to his home to console him over a death in his family.
Shortly thereafter, Hoskins’ lawyer, John P. Bartolomei of Niagara Falls, filed a renewed motion with the Aurora Justice Court to dismiss Hoskins’ case.
Albert said he arrived for work at 25 Delaware Ave. on Friday and was escorted from his office, forbidden from retrieving his belongings and “treated like a common criminal.” He said he appeared at the East Aurora courthouse Monday to set the record straight.
“They could take my job, but not my dignity,” Albert said, adding that he and Cooke, while not currently in a relationship, share mutual interests in protecting animals and that both are “vegetarian.”
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III could not be reached after business closed Monday to comment about Albert.
Current prosecutor Nicholas Texido told Marky in court Monday that despite the new defense accusations, the case’s outcome should not be affected. “Our contention is that this relationship was not a violation of the law,” Texido said. “No ethical canon was violated.”
Texido did not inform the court Monday that Albert was no longer employed by the District Attorney’s Office. Hoskins’ team learned of Albert’s termination when reporters sought comment after court and believes that it further bolsters Hoskins’ case.
“I’m pleased to hear that,” Hoskins said. “He probably should have been terminated in March when this was first raised. I think it’s also an admission” on the part of the District Attorney’s Office.
Marky reserved judgment on both Hoskins’ renewed motion to dismiss because of prosecutorial conduct, as well as on the verdict in her nonjury trial until Monday afternoon in Aurora Town Court.