The New York Times, Dec 6, 2004 pB7 col 01 (26 col in)
Matthew J. Troy Jr., 75, Dies; Ruled in Queens, Then Fell. (Metropolitan Desk)(Obituary) Robert D. Mcfadden.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2004 The New York Times Company
Matthew J. Troy Jr., a flamboyant former city councilman and Queens Democratic leader whose rising political star collapsed in the 1970's after he was convicted of tax evasion and stealing money from law clients, died on Friday at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens. He was 75 and lived in Queens Village. The cause was Parkinson's disease, said his daughter Catherine Kalenderian.
A burly, blunt political boss who ruled the powerful Queens Democratic organization from 1971 to 1974, Mr. Troy gave his nod to the selection of judicial candidates, battled City Hall over budgets and patronage, made no bones about wanting to be mayor and even had his eye on a United States Senate seat. When he was named leader of Queens, the second-largest Democratic organization in the state, Mr. Troy received congratulatory calls from a series of party presidential hopefuls, including Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Edmund S. Muskie, Birch Bayh, Harold E. Hughes and George S. McGovern. A year later, when Mr. McGovern ran for president, it was Mr. Troy who squired him around town.
|But Mr. Troy, who represented a Queens district in the City Council from 1964
to 1976 and for several years was chairman of the Council's Finance Committee,
brawled publicly with Mayor Abraham D. Beame over the city budget and other
issues. He also crossed swords with party leaders in other boroughs and rivals
in Queens, and his promising political career began to falter in 1974.
Mayor Beame and the Queens Borough president, Donald R. Manes, led a successful move to oust Mr. Troy from his party post. He was succeeded by Mr. Manes, who killed himself in 1986 after being implicated as the kingpin of a corrupt enterprise in the city's Parking Violations Bureau that became the biggest scandal of its era.
In 1976, Mr. Troy pleaded guilty to a federal charge of filing a 1972 income tax form that failed to report $37,000 in money he had stolen from the estates of law clients. He served 55 days in jail. While disbarred from law practice, he was not forced to surrender his Council seat because the state regarded the federal felony conviction as a misdemeanor. But he lost a 1977 primary race for re-election.
And in 1979, Mr. Troy was convicted of state grand larceny charges that arose out of the 1976 case. He said federal officials had promised that he would face no further prosecution, and argued that it was a case of double jeopardy. But his argument was rejected, and he served 26 weekends in jail.
Over the next decade, Mr. Troy was the executive director of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, representing dealers in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens Counties, and his name often appeared in news articles as that of a spokesman for the trade group. While he never ran for political office again, he regained his law license in the late 1980's and practiced law until last spring, when he became ill.
In an interview last year, Mr. Troy recalled his political downfall as a salvation of sorts. ''I didn't like what happened, but it probably saved my life,'' he said. ''It kept me from having a heart attack. I was working 20 hours a day as county leader and Finance Committee chairman.''
Always outspoken, a quick-witted man who did not hesitate to poke fun at himself, Mr. Troy gave an unusual two-hour lecture to law students in a course on ''Corruption and Integrity in Government'' at Pace University in New York in 1988.
Recalling his experiences, he said he had swapped State Assembly votes for judgeships, met visitors with briefcases bulging with cash and turned down bribes from developers and lawyers. ''There were so many instances where bribes were offered to me -- that I did not take -- that while I can't teach you the difference between right and wrong, I have an obligation to help you better understand,'' he said.
The going rate for a State Supreme Court judgeship was $75,000, while lower court posts went for $35,000, he said. Once, he said, ''a man came to see me and he put a briefcase on my desk, loaded, absolutely loaded, with cash.''
''And he said to me, 'I'd like to be a judge.'
''I asked him, 'Are you a lawyer?'''
When the class's laughter died down, he said: ''I tell you, if you are going to enter public life, and you are a young guy with a large family, there are lots of debts. It takes a super man or woman to say no.''
Matthew Joseph Troy Jr. was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on Sept. 23, 1929, the son of a lawyer-politician who was a city magistrate and a municipal judge under Mayors Fiorello H. La Guardia, William O'Dwyer and Robert F. Wagner. He attended parochial schools, graduated from Georgetown University and received his law degree at Fordham Law School in 1956.
Elected to the Council in 1964 by voters in a largely conservative district in Eastern Queens, he was known as a maverick from the start, crossing party lines to endorse civil court judges and Congressional candidates and pestering the mayor's office with letters, telegrams and public statements of criticism.
In 1965, he led a pro-Vietnam War parade, and when Mayor John V. Lindsay ordered the American flag lowered over City Hall on Vietnam Moratorium Day in 1969, Mr. Troy ran to the roof and raised it to full staff. Yet three years later, he endorsed the antiwar candidacy of Senator McGovern. ''I felt that he was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt of 1972,'' Mr. Troy explained.
And after his selection as Queens Democratic leader, he worked with Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and the Queens Republican leader to handpick candidates for judgeships and district attorney. They all won in landslides with Democratic, Republican and Liberal party endorsements, and some good-government groups complained that Mr. Troy had made elections unnecessary.
Besides his daughter Catherine Kalenderian, of Bellerose, N.Y., Mr. Troy is survived by his wife, the former Dolores Saville, whom he married in 1954; five other daughters, Dolores Quinn, of Bayside, N.Y., Maureen Ludemann, of Queens Village, Mary Karp, of Bellmore, N.Y., Therese Troy, of Queens Village, and Jacqueline Magnone, of West Hempstead, N.Y.; two sons, Matthew J. Troy 3rd, of Port Chester, N.Y., and Kevin Troy, of Franklin Square, N.Y.; 18 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. A son, Michael Troy, died in 2000.