A long-time fixture at the Queens district attorney’s office was honored posthumously by its leader last week.
District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that the Thomas E. Dewey Medal was awarded to the late Queens Assistant District Attorney James W. Evangelou, who died suddenly in September after a brief illness.
The Thomas E. Dewey Medal is awarded each year by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York to an outstanding assistant district attorney in each of the city’s five District Attorney offices and in the Office of the City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Bureau Chief Evangelou was posthumously bestowed this honor at a ceremony at the Association’s headquarters on Dec. 4. The award presentation was attended by many of his friends and colleagues and was accepted on his behalf by Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney James C. Quinn.
“ADA Evangelou was our long-time chief of my Career Criminal Major Crimes Bureau,” Brown said. “He was a hard-working, dedicated prosecutor. I am very pleased this esteemed honor is being awarded to him.”
Evangelou joined the district attorney’s office in 1981 as part of the Special Victims Bureau, where he tried major felonies and homicides. He was promoted to Deputy Chief of the then-newly formed Career Criminal Major Crimes Bureau in 1992 and eight years later he was promoted to Bureau Chief where he trained scores of the office’s best assistants, many of whom became homicide trial assistants and managers in the office.
Brown said Evangelou was not only an experienced prosecutor and a consummate professional, but he was an all-around special person best known for his humble and congenial nature and his dedication to the office.
Evangelou’s contributions to the office, his unwavering passion for the law and his dedication to achieving justice makes him more than worthy of this honor, Brown added.
Among New York City prosecutors, Dewey is remembered as having ushered in the era in which District Attorneys offices have been staffed by professional prosecutors chosen on merit rather than through political patronage. Dewey first came to the public’s attention as a prosecutor in the 1930s, instituting successful criminal proceedings against gangsters, bootleggers and organized crime figures of the day.
By 1937, Dewey was elected District Attorney for New York County, where he served one term before resigning to run for governor. He would go on to serve three terms as New York’s chief executive.