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About Us

Executive Management

Executive Management

Clare J. Degnan

Executive Director

For 33 years, Ms. Degnan has served LASW as Associate Counsel, Senior Associate Counsel, Deputy Bureau Chief, Mount Vernon Bureau Chief, Deputy Chief Counsel of Local Courts, and Acting Executive Director. In July 2015, the LASW Board appointed Ms. Degnan as the first female Executive Director in LASW’s history.

Ms. Degnan is the President of the Chief Defenders Association of New York.  She is a delegate for the 9th Judicial District for the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) of the House of Delegates.  Ms. Degnan is a member of the NYS Bar Criminal Justice Section as Co-chair of the Villages, and Justice Courts Sub-committee Wrongful Convictions Sub-committee, Mandated Representation, and Family Court Section of the NYS Bar Association.

Under her leadership, LASW received grants from the Offices of Indigent Legal Services to fund and develop the Regional Immigration Assistance Center and the Assigned Counsel Resource Center.

In 2024, LASW will open a state-of-the-art training center complete with moot court room to provide training programs for LASW attorneys and the entirety of the 9th Judicial District. 

In 2019, the NYSBA Mandated Representation Committee awarded Ms. Degnan the NYSBA Excellence in Mandated Representation Award.


Ms. Degnan graduated from SUNY Purchase in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science; she graduated from Albany Law School in 1989 and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1991.

Sherry Levin Wallach, Esq.

Deputy Executive Director

Sherry Levin Wallach is the Deputy Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County and served as the 2022-2023 President of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), the largest state voluntary bar association in the United States.


Ms. Levin Wallach concentrates her practice on criminal defense. She has also practiced in the areas of medical malpractice defense, plaintiff personal injury, estate planning, probate and estate administration, real estate and general civil litigation. She has practiced in both the state and federal courts. In her years in private practice, she served on both the Westchester and Putnam County Assigned Counsel panels including the felony and homicide panels in Westchester, which provide criminal defense for those who cannot afford an attorney.


In 2022, Levin Wallach established the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance & Currency and focused her efforts on the impact of Web3, Metaverse, blockchain technology, crypto currency and the Law. That same year, she was appointed to the Advisory Board for the New York University’s Metaverse Collaborative. Levin Wallach has presented on this topic for the NYU School of Professional Studies Metaverse Collaborative, the University of Florence, the Barcelona Bar Association, and the New York State Bar Association.


During her Presidency of the New York State Bar Association, Levin Wallach also established Task Forces of the Modernization of Criminal Practice, Mental Health & Trauma Informed Representation, The U.S. Territories, and the Ethics of Local Public Sector Lawyering.


She began her career as an assistant district attorney of Bronx County. Levin Wallach then took a position as an associate at the law firm of McAloon & Friedman, PC, where she handled medical malpractice defense.  She went on to be a principal at her law firm Wallach & Rendo, LLP for the next 14 years until becoming of counsel to both Bashian Law (formerly Bashian & Farber), and Brown Hutchinson.


Levin Wallach is co-founder of the NYSBA Young Lawyers Section Trial Academy, an annual program offering five days of intensive trial training. She continued to serve as the program’s faculty organizer, team leader and lecturer.


At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, she assisted the NYSBA CLE Department on expanding the Trial Academy to have a series of virtual lectures on trial practice that run live from June to December and then chaired its 2021 inaugural Virtual Trial Academy. In 2022, Levin Wallach assisted the NYSBA staff and program chairs in returning the program to its live format at Syracuse University’s School of Law.

A former chair of the Criminal Justice and Young Lawyers Sections, Levin Wallach served as NYSBA secretary for four terms, was a vice president from the Ninth Judicial District to the Executive Committee, and served four years as a Member-at-Large on the Executive Committee. She chaired and co-chaired the Membership Committee for seven years and co-chaired the Task Force on Incarceration Release Planning and Programs where she chairs the Supervision subcommittee of the Task Force on Parole Reform. Levin Wallach serves on the Committee on Professional Discipline, the Committee on Mandated Representation, the Committee on Immigration Representation, and is a former chair of the Resolutions. She is also a member of the NYSBA Women in the Law Section, Criminal Justice Section, Trial Lawyers Section, LGBTQ Law Section and the Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law Section.

Ms. Levin Wallach serves as a Delegate to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates and has successfully brought resolutions to its floor on Equal Treatment for the People of the U.S. Territories which urges the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the Insular Cases, establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal to address the War Crime of Aggression in response to the war in Ukraine, and urging the courts nationwide to adopted an LGBTQ Bench Card to ensure all people are treated with respect in our nations courts.


Levin Wallach coached the Pace Law School Mock Trial Team for two years before beginning her term as NYSBA’s President. She has taught at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy at Hofstra University School of Law and coached and judged high school, college and law school mock trial competitions across New York State.


She organizes and lectures at continuing legal education programs for NYSBA, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, New York State Defenders Association, SOMOS, New York University School of Professional Studies, University of Florence, Fordham Law School, New York University School of Law, Barcelona Bar Association, UIA Conference of International Lawyers, Virgin Islands Bar Association, and Westchester County Bar Association on the topics including Web3 and the metaverse, trial advocacy, mental health and trauma informed representation, attorney well-being, criminal and civil trial practice, ethics, women in the law, forensic science, non-lawyer ownership, the U.S. Territories, and DWI. Levin Wallach authored a chapter on DWI defense, “Best Practices for Defense Attorneys in Today’s DWI Cases,” in Inside the Minds: Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, as well as articles on criminal justice issues, attorney well-being, technology and the law and trial practice which have been published in the New York Law Journal, the New York Bar Journal, the Westchester County Bar Journal, The New York State Defenders Association and the New York State Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section.

Levin Wallach earned her Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law (now the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University) and her undergraduate BBA from George Washington University.


Legal Staff


Dina C. Denlea

Chief of the County Court Division

Salvatore A. Gaetani

Chief of Appeals

Richard Viviano

Chief of Grand Jury & CAFA

Jessica Hugel

Chief of Trials

Debra A. Cassidy

Senior Counsel Appeals

Allan Focarile

First Senior Trial Counsel

Robin J. Bauer

Diversion/Mental Health Court

Yvonne Borkowski

Youth Part Region Chief

Netikka D. Seward

DV/IDV Courts Region Chief

Meghan C. Stelzer

Deputy Region Chief

MaryPat Long

Region Chief

Christine  L. Asch

Deputy Region Chief/Forensic Specialist

Kate Wasserman

Region Chief

Nicholas A. Speranza

Trial Counsel

Theresa Gugliotta

Senior Counsel

Elizabeth A. Hume

Supervising Attorney


Julie B. Schechter

Deputy Region Chief

Lynda S. Visco

Deputy Region Chief

Venessa Melly

Senior Criminal /

Immigration Counsel

Gary Kropkowski

Region Chief

Hannah Robbins

Deputy Region Chief

Vishakha Patel

Managing Attorney Family Court Division

Social Workers / Mitigation

Selwyn Ellis

Forensic Social Worker

Ashley Bernhardt

Forensic Social Worker

Ronald McGregor

Supervisor of the Social Work Department

Kristel Ratas

Forensic Social Worker

Associate Counsel

Darryl L. Albert

Associate Counsel

Clotelle Drakeford 

Attorney for Special Litigation

Paul J. Hanft

Associate Counsel

Ken Jones

Associate Counsel

Wali Muhammad

Associate Counsel

Carly Lynch-Mcguire

Associate Counsel

April A. McKenzie

Associate Counsel

Patricia Petrosky

Associate Counsel

Sandhya Prashad

Associate Counsel

Andrew L. Restivo

Associate Counsel

Dijonnae Samuels

Associate Counsel

Samara Simpson

Associate Counsel

Jennifer Spencer

Senior Associate Counsel

Sydney Stanley

Associate Counsel

Kerrin I. Weiner

Associate Counsel

Nicole Zagreda

Associate Counsel


Robert Horne

Managing Attorney of RIAC

Craig Small

RIAC Staff Attorney

Navil Infante

RIAC Staff Attorney

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