Megan McDonald murder: NYPD detectives ask Hochul for probe of 'unethical, underhanded' DA

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The NYPD's Detectives' Endowment Association on Tuesday made it official, asking Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and New York Attorney General Letitia James for a "full and thorough investigation of Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler" over his "unethical and underhanded" actions in the Megan McDonald murder investigation.

"We are demanding that the FBI, the New York State Attorney General, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York open an investigation as to why David Hoovler stood in the way of justice for Megan McDonald and for so long," the letter states.

Addressed to Hochul, with copies sent to Garland and James, the letter is signed by union president Paul DiGiacomo. It calls for an investigation to "be opened immediately so that finally, after 20 long years, the McDonald family can obtain full justice for their beloved Megan." DiGiacomo adds that the union "shall not be satisfied until this matter is fully investigated."

Hochul's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hoovler said in a statement: “As I have said before, by any objective review, I and my staff, at all times, acted in accordance with the highest ethical standards governing attorneys generally, and district attorneys specifically.”

The Detectives' Endowment Association — the largest detectives' union in the world, representing 18,000 active and retired detectives — once included retired Det. Second Grade Dennis McDonald, who died in 2002, years after investigating the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. McDonald's daughter, Megan, was killed in March 2003, her bludgeoned body found in a field in the town of Wallkill in Orange County.

Paul DiGiacomo, president of the NYPD's Detectives' Endowment Association, flanked by members of his group and Karen and James Whalen, the sister and brother-in-law of Megan McDonald, calls for the FBI and or Attorney General to investigate the actions of Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler. The DA, when he was in private practice, represented Andre Thurston, a man who was seeking a plea deal in the McDonald murder. Hoovler, after taking office in January 2014, failed to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation.

On April 20, 2023, after a 20-year investigation, New York State Police arrested Edward Holley, Megan's former boyfriend, and charged him with second-degree murder — under a felony complaint without an indictment. Holley has said he's innocent.

Within days of Holley's arrest, DA Hoovler — who was not present at the press conference announcing the major development in Orange County's highest-profile cold case — recused himself and his office and sought a special prosecutor. Hoovler said he had ties to someone involved in the case, someone he'd represented as a defense attorney before being elected DA in 2013.

Special prosecutor Julia Cornachio, a veteran Westchester prosecutor, secured a grand jury indictment of Holley on Jan. 29, 2024. Holley was arraigned Feb. 2 and is being held in Orange County jail.

Investigation into McDonald case: A notorious NY cold case took 20 years for an arrest. Here are the conflicts behind the scenes

David Hoovler's actions 'unethical, underhanded': What the letter said

The letter calls Hoovler's actions "unethical, underhanded, and that he violated the rules of professional conduct and the oath of his office with regard to this homicide investigation. He has been untruthful and evasive when dealing with Megan McDonald's family and only recently has recused himself from this case as it prepares to go to trial, thanks to the appointment of a special prosecutor."

Among the assertions DiGiacomo makes in the letter are:

  • Hoovler refused for nine months to move forward and bring to a grand jury a homicide case that took 20 years to come to fruition;

  • Hoovler failed to recuse himself from this case although he previously represented an accomplice or person present for the murder, Andre Thurston;

  • Hoovler attempted to get a proffer agreement and plea deal for Mr. Thurston prior to becoming DA;

  • Hoovler warned suspect Edward Holley about being wary of investigators, after which Holley "greatly reduced his telephone and other activity and thus thwarted an investigative avenue into the murder."

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler speaks with residents during a "Coffee with the DA" event at the Alexis Diner in Newburgh on October 3, 2023.
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler speaks with residents during a "Coffee with the DA" event at the Alexis Diner in Newburgh on October 3, 2023.

Bad blood behind the scenes: What our investigation uncovered

Earlier this month, a USA Today Network New York series revealed a blistering State Police report taking Hoovler to task for his alleged actions in the McDonald murder investigation. With days of that exclusive report, at a Manhattan press conference, the detectives' union called for an investigation of Hoovler. Tuesday's letter makes that call official.

At the press conference, DiGiacomo was flanked by members of his group and by Karen and James Whalen, the sister and brother-in-law of Megan McDonald, at the hastily called news conference.

"I've been a detective for over 40 years, and there's something that we go by, and that's gut instinct a lot," DiGiacomo said. "And this case smells. There were things done that were unethical, things done that were wrong, things done that should be investigated by the FBI and the attorney general to bring to light the corruption in that office in regards to this homicide case."

"One of the reasons it took 20 years to bring this case to the point it is now, was that the current district attorney, David Hoovler, was once the defense attorney who represented one of the perpetrators in this homicide," DiGiacomo said.

Hoovler, as a defense attorney, in 2008 sought a manslaughter plea deal for his client, whom he later identified as Andre Thurston. Thurston died in 2010 from a drug overdose, days after the seventh anniversary of Megan McDonald's murder.

Hoovler denies the conclusion drawn in the internal State Police report, that he tampered with the investigation because of his role representing Thurston.

"Any suggestion that I, or anyone in my office, did anything to 'tamper with,' or in some fashion compromise the investigation into Ms. McDonald's death is as categorically false as it is offensive," he said.

Read the detectives' union's letter to Gov. Hochul

Edward Holley due back in court

Meanwhile, Edward Holley is due back in court on Wednesday, his second appearance before Orange County Judge Hyun Chin Kim.

Reach Peter D. Kramer at

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: NYPD detectives' union seeks probe of DA in Megan McDonald murder case