Rice graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and Touro Law School. She formerly served as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn and an assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia. Rice became Nassau County’s first female district attorney in 2005, winning election against Dennis Dillon, a 31-year incumbent. As district attorney, she has received national attention for hard-charging campaigns against drunken driving and cheating on college admissions tests.
In recent months, Rice’s name has been in the press in connection with an investigation that her office conducted into the Nassau County Police Department’s arrest of a Roosevelt man, Randy White, in a case fraught with political implications. White had worked for former Freeport mayor Andrew Hardwick’s campaign to get on the November ballot as a third-party candidate for county executive. Many saw Hardwick’s candidacy as an attempt to siphon votes from Tom Suozzi, the Democratic candidate. White testified in state Supreme Court in October that Hardwick paid volunteers for each petition signature they collected, which is illegal.
According to a letter that Rice sent to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Gary Melius, a wealthy donor to Mangano and Hardwick’s campaigns, called NCPD Commissioner Thomas Dale and told him the Hardwick campaign wanted to file a perjury charge against White. On Oct. 5, three plainclothes police officers pulled White off a county bus in Hempstead, arresting him for not paying a $250 fine from a prior arrest for selling bootleg DVDs. The same day Rice detailed these events in her letter to Mangano, Dale resigned as commissioner.
Rice wrote to Mangano that the handling of White’s case might justify administrative reforms in the Police Department, but it did not merit criminal charges against any of the parties involved. In an 11-page letter, Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee, sharply criticized Rice for not pressing charges.