It’s official: Dave Mejias, the former Nassau County legislator who was trying to unseat New York State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), announced Thursday that he is bowing out of the race after being accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend in Matinecock last week.
Although Mejias will still appear on the ballot in the Sept. 14 primary, he asked voters to support his Democratic challenger, Francesca Carlow. “The voters deserve a real debate on the issues,” Mejias said Thursday while flanked by more than a dozen supporters. “My continued candidacy would replace a meaningful debate about the future of our great state with distraction and sensationalism.”
He also used the announcement, held at the ritzy Carlyle on the Green in Bethpage State Park, to reiterate his denial of any wrongdoing.
“This was a brief verbal dispute in which there was no physical injury, no physical contact, and no property damage,” the 39-year-old Farmingdale resident said. “This was completely a chance encounter during which no one was run off the road or chased out of their car.”
He described the Sept. 1 incident as a “brief verbal dispute involved a business dispute, nothing else.” Mejias added: “Any inference that this incident involved domestic violence is categorically wrong.”
Nassau County prosecutors charged Mejias with stalking, menacing and reckless engenderment. Mejias allegedly tailgated the victim, “then went into oncoming traffic to pass the victim, cut her off and stopped in the middle of the lane she was traveling in,” according to court documents.
Mejias “began swerving toward the vehicle the victim was a passenger in” forcing the driver, the woman’s new boyfriend, “to take evasive action to avoid being struck by the defendant’s vehicle,” the documents say.
The victims, who the Press is not naming, made a three-point turn and sped away when Mejias allegedly gave chase, repeated the same maneuver and got out of his vehicle, the documents say. They got away a second time when Mejias allegedly pulled the same move a third time, the documents say.
The woman, who dated Mejias “on and off” for three years, the documents say, escaped a third time and fled to her parent’s Upper Brookville home.
After spending a night in jail and being released on $1,000 bail Sept. 2, Mejias, a divorce attorney with an office in Glen Cove, released a statement saying that the charges are unfounded and that he expects to be exonerated. He is due back in court Sept. 16.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice appointed Scott Kessler, the domestic violence bureau chief for the Queens district attorney, as special prosecutor to handle the case because Rice has a personal relationship with the victim.
Mejias was the first Latino elected to the Nassau County Legislature and was unseated by Republican Joe Belesi in 2009 after serving six years. He had received the Democratic nomination in the race for the 6th Senate District, but since his arrest party leaders have reportedly thrown their weight behind Carlow.
As for his political future, Mejias said he is done seeking public office. “Anything I can do to help my community will be from the private sector,” he said.