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Buffalo attorney among 2 appointments to state's ethics commission

Sharon Stern Gertsman
Magavern Magavern Grimm
Sharon Stern Gerstman is counsel at Magavern Magavern Grimm in Buffalo.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has made two appointments to the state's ethics commission, including one from Buffalo.

The governor has appointed Jose Nieves, a criminal defense attorney from New York City, to serve as chair of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and Sharon Stern Gerstman, an arbitration and mediation attorney in Buffalo, to serve as a member of the commission. Hochul said the two appointees will replace Robert Cohen and James Dering, who will be stepping down.

JCOPE has a flawed track record when it comes to investigating the state’s elected officials and has operated mostly in private. After Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid multiple scandals, Hochul promised to restore trust in Albany.

"Restoring trust in government is a top priority for my administration, and that includes strengthening ethics oversight," Hochul said in a statement. "Jose Nieves and Sharon Stern Gerstman are well-respected and talented professionals who will uphold our commitment to open, ethical governing and help to transform not just state government, but more importantly, people's image and perception of their state government."

Nieves is the founder of Jose L. Nieves & Associates in Bayside, NY and a career prosecutor in private practice, for public offices and in the military. He was formerly with the state Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District, the Federal Aviation Administration, the New York City Department of Correction, Trials and Litigation Division and the Kings County District Attorney's Office.

A native of Brooklyn, Stern Gerstman is counsel at Magavern Magavern Grimm in Buffalo and a delegate for the American Bar Association, who's taught New York Practice for 30 years at the University at Buffalo. She was president of the New York State and Erie County Bar Associations and a member of the American Law Institute, with a 29-year history as a court attorney/referee and principal law clerk in New York State Supreme Court.