Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly discusses community concerns at League of Women Voters meeting


Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly was the guest speaker  at a meeting of the League of Women Voters of East Nassau, where she discussed such topics as the increase in hate crimes.

The purpose of the public event, which took place on May 15 at the Levittown Public Library, was to inform the community on how the district attorney’s office operates, according to league member Barbara Epstein.

“We think it’s fantastic,” Epstein said, “because it gives the people in the community the opportunity to hear what she does, what her office does, and some of the issues that she’s concerned with.”

One of her more pressing issues is hate crime, which has seen a rise in Nassau County, Donnelly said. She added that her office will receive cases and charge suspects who commit hate crimes, but identifying those who are responsible for these offenses is often extremely difficult.

“If someone wakes up in the morning and there's an offensive symbol, a swastika, painted on their fence,” Donnelly said, “well, trying to figure out who did that is sometimes next to impossible, unless you get the right ring camera.”

According to the state’s hate crime report for 2022, Nassau County made 19 arrests out of the 61 hate crime incidents reported that year.

Audience members also discussed their concerns with protests, such as the pro-Palestinian marches in the city and the Proud Boys march in Rockville Centre two years ago. Donnelly said that police are allowed to break up these protests if the demonstrators are being disruptive, such as when they block off a road.

“The right to peacefully protest is protected,” Donnelly said, “so they're allowed to do it. It’s when they get out of hand, when things get angry, criminal mischief starts happening. Then we step in.”

Members of the audience also discussed with Donnelly other concerns, such as credit card fraud. According to Donnelly, victims must first make a report with their credit card company, then file a complaint with either her office or their local precinct. The problem, she added, is that most criminals who commit credit card fraud are out of the country, making it difficult to prosecute them.

On bail reform, which eliminates cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, Donnelly said she has been working to change the laws to make it easier to set bail.

“I went to Albany, and I will continue to go to Albany to press for changes in the bail and the discovery laws to make our jobs more doable,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly is the 17th district attorney in Nassau County, and the fourth consecutive woman to hold the position. Prior to her election in 2021, Donnelly spent more than 30 years working as a prosecutor under three different district attorneys, including serving as the deputy chief of the organized crime and rackets bureau and economic crimes bureau.

“I want to help people — people who were victims of crime, people who might have had an addiction and committed a crime,” Donnelly said. “There's a lot of ways we can help people as prosecutors.”

According to Donnelly, more than 400 employees work in the district attorney’s office, and 220 of them are lawyers, with the rest being support staff and paralegals. She added that her office prosecutes everything from misdemeanor crimes to murder.

She said that suspects aren’t always hauled away to jail because, in some cases, the situation calls for rehabilitation.

“Sometimes, we say, ‘This person is obviously a drug addict, so let's get him into a program,’” Donnelly said. “And then we'll dismiss or lower the charges if you complete the program successfully.”

Donnelly added that the DA’s office has divisions for a variety of crimes. The litigation division encompasses the district court, which handles misdemeanors, and the county court, which deals with felonies. The investigations division, according to Donnelly, has bureaus for financial crimes, organized crime and rackets, narcotics, firearms and gangs.

“People don’t realize the district attorney’s office is multifaceted,” Epstein said. “People think they just go out and try people in court, but that’s not the case.”

Donnelly said that she was proud of the League of Women Voters for informing the community about local agencies such as the DA’s office and encouraging residents to vote.

“We’re very happy to have her, and she raised the importance of getting people out to vote,” Epstein said of Donnelly.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that works to protect and expand voting rights throughout the country. The league empowers voters through education and litigation from the local to national levels. According to Peggy Stein, member of the East Nassau chapter, the organization is more than 100 years old, and was formed around the time when women received the right to vote.

“We advocate for voters, we provide information for voters, and we do voter registration,” Stein said of the organization.

For more information on the League of Women Voters, visit