By Gabriela Resto-Montero
MANHATTAN — This town just ain't big enough for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The two heavyweights took a fight over the DA office accounts public Thursday with the outgoing Morgenthau saying Bloomberg has made "chickens--t comments" about the situation to the press, according to several published reports.
On Wednesday, the mayor's office released a list of 68 banks where the DA's office keeps $83 million collected from fines, forfeitures and settlements, the New York Times reported.
The dispute between the two offices stems from City Hall's claim that the DA's office kept the accounts secret.
"This is the public's money and you just can't have two sets of books," Bloomberg said during his weekly appearance on a radio talk show."No one is suggesting there was any wrong thing intended with the money."
The mayor went on to praise the outgoing district attorney.
"Bob Morgenthau, as far as I know, is as honest a person as you can find," he said. "Having said all that, it's still the public's right to know."
On Thursday, Morgenthau said the investigation into the accounts amounted to "juvenile combat" on Bloomberg's part and that his office has in fact turned over $181 million of the money it's collected from cases to the city, according to the New York Post.
“This office, like any large agency, has bank accounts, and the city has been fully aware of that all along,” Morgenthau said in a statement.
“The secret account complaint is reminiscent of Claude Rains' famous statement in ‘Casablanca’ that he was shocked — shocked — to learn what was going on at Rick’s place.”
In the scene that 90-year-old Morgenthau references from the classic Humphrey Bogart film, Raine's character says he's shocked to see gambling at Rick's place only to turn around and collect his winnings.
Comptroller William C. Thompson, who was sued by Bloomberg in December over construction contracts with the Brooklyn House of Detention, will investigate the accounts.