Division of Criminal Justice Services

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For Immediate Release:  January 26, 2009
Contact:   Errol Cockfield | errol.cockfield@chamber.state.ny.us | 212.681.4640 | 518-474-8418


Governor David A. Paterson today accepted with regret the resignation of Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni. Mr. Balboni's resignation will become effective on February 2, 2009, when he will begin work in the private sector. Governor Paterson announced that Denise E. O'Donnell, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Criminal Justice, will be appointed as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety. Commissioner O'Donnell will retain her post at DCJS.

"Since his time in both the State Legislature and the Governor's office, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni has provided invaluable leadership and counsel to the Executive Chamber," Governor Paterson said. "His commitment to the security of the people of New York improved our State's emergency preparedness and response, which we will never take for granted. I am grateful to Michael for his service and wish him well with his future endeavors."

"As Commissioner of DCJS, Denise O'Donnell has proven to be a highly effective, energetic and creative administrator," Governor Paterson added. "I have enormous confidence in Denise and I am certain she will continue to serve the citizens of New York State with great distinction."

In her new role, Commissioner O'Donnell will oversee all homeland security and criminal justice agencies, including DCJS, the Office of Homeland Security, the Division of State Police, the Department of Corrections, the Division of Parole, the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the State Emergency Management Office, the Crime Victims Board, the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, and the State Commission of Correction.

Commissioner O'Donnell has led DCJS since her unanimous confirmation by the State Senate in 2007. Prior to her appointment, she was a litigation partner at Hodgson Russ LLP, focusing on government regulatory investigations, health care law, civil fraud, false claims act litigation, money laundering and financial crimes, and corporate ethics.

In 1997, President Clinton appointed Commissioner O'Donnell as United States Attorney, making her the first woman ever to hold the position of top federal prosecutor in Upstate New York. As a U.S. Attorney, Commissioner O'Donnell served as chief federal prosecutor for 17 counties in the Western District of New York. She developed a program to prevent housing discrimination and established the first Hate Crimes Task Force in Western New York. Commissioner O'Donnell also served as Vice-Chair of the U.S. Attorney General's Advisory Committee and was a member of the Investigations & Intelligence, Northern Border, and Civil Rights sub-committees.

Commissioner O'Donnell has taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law and served as a lecturer with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Education. She was inducted into the Western New York Women's Hall of Fame and has received numerous awards and honors, including the New York State Bar Association's Ruth G. Shapiro Award.  Later this month, she will receive the State Bar's prestigious Award for Excellence in Public Service.

Commissioner O'Donnell received a Master's Degree in Social Work from SUNY Buffalo and graduated summa cum laude from the University at Buffalo School of Law.

Commissioner O'Donnell is a native of Western New York and a resident of Buffalo, where she lives with her husband, State Supreme Court Justice John F. O'Donnell. They have two grown children, Maura and Jack.

As Deputy Secretary for Public Safety, Commissioner O'Donnell's salary will be $165,000. This appointment does not require Senate confirmation.