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Family Court Judge Ronald Richter to Take Over ACS

By Jill Colvin | July 27, 2011 1:42pm | Updated on July 27, 2011 1:50pm
The new ACS Commisioner Ronald Richter with his daughter, Maya, and spouse, Franklin Cogliano
The new ACS Commisioner Ronald Richter with his daughter, Maya, and spouse, Franklin Cogliano
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

CITY HALL — Family Court Judge Ronald Richter has been appointed the new Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday.

His appointment came one day after long-time chief John Mattingly resigned.

Richter, a former ACS Deputy Commissioner, currently serves as a judge in Queens Family Court, where he deals with cases brought by ACS involving child abuse, neglect and custody rights.

Before that, he served as Deputy Commissioner of ACS under Mattingly, where he caught the eye of Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. He began his career at the Legal Aid Society, where he represented children in child protection and delinquency cases.

“Because of his broad experience, he has tremendous perspective on all parts of the system and a deep understanding of the work that ACS does,” Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference announcing the appointment.

Richter is married to Franklin Cogliano, and the couple have a 14-month-old daughter, Maya.

Bloomberg said his new appointment's sexuality was of no relevance to the job.

"Nobody’s going to care about his family," he said.

"They’re going to care about the families of New York that he has to take care of."

Bloomberg had nothing but praise for Mattingly, whose seven-year tenure at the oft-criticized agency was marked with several high-profile failures, including the death of seven-year-old Nixzmary Brown of Brooklyn and, more recently, the death of four-year-old Marchella Brett-Pierce.

“I, for one, am proud that you came here and I’m proud of the job that you’ve done," he said.

"One of the great contributions I made to society was to find you, recruit you and support you." 

His comments were met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation from ACS staffers in the room.

“We all do owe a debt of gratitude to Mattingly for taking on such a thankless job that is so important to the people who literally are defenseless,” the mayor said. “We are really sad to see John go.”

Mattingly said Tuesday he will be leaving the post to return to his foundation work in Baltimore and spend more time with his family.

Bloomberg also weighed in on some of the agency's criticism, saying that tragedies like what happened to Brown are nothing new.

“There’s a tragedy all the time," he said. "Unfortunately this is not an occurrence that is rare."

Still, he said, "This is an agency that’s been very well led from the top all the way down."

Richter thanked Bloomberg for the “extraordinary opportunity” and said he will continue the work that Mattingly's done.

“I am committed to advancing the mission of ACS to protect our young people, to find loving homes for them in foster care, to deliver services that help youth in our juvenile justice system, and to provide high quality child care to the working families of New York,” he said in a statement.