Yates DA Todd Casella named ‘Prosecutor of the Year’

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

NYPTI 2021 Prosecutor of the Year award recognizing Casella's “Executive Leadership”

Yates County DA Todd Casella receiving the “2021 Prosecutor of the Year” award June 26 from Susan Valle, Director of NYPTI, at a conference in Lake George.

Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella was awarded “Prosecutor of the Year” by the New York Prosecutor’s Training Institute (NYPTI) at the District Attorney’s Association of N.Y.’s Summer Conference June 26 at Lake George. 

Casella’s nomination  for his “executive leadership” was submitted by retired Ontario County District Attorney Mike Tantillo, who is currently serving as part-time Assistant District Attorney in Yates County. When asked why he thought Casella deserved the award, Tatillo wrote, “Although I could have listed a number of other significant cases prosecuted by DA Todd Casella, I am nominating him for the Prosecutor of the Year Award because of his single-minded, relentless pursuit of justice in the case of People v. Kelly Anderson. A 16-month old child was murdered 18 years go in Yates County, but no prosecution was ever commenced because of the inability to determine which of the child victim's caretakers was culpable. Through the years, three separate District Attorneys in Yates County did not believe the evidence was sufficient to support charges. 

“Upon becoming District attorney, DA Casella undertook a fresh review of the voluminous files in the matter. He sought DNA analysis that had not been undertaken in the initial investigation. Most importantly, he sought and obtained eavesdropping warrants and extensions, and painstakingly pored over huge numbers of intercepted conversations. After putting in literally hundreds of hours into his own review and investigation, DA Casella presented the case to a grand jury and obtained a murder indictment against the [victim’s] mother. Following hundreds of additional hours of preparation with witnesses both local and around the country, and after consulting with and retaining expert witnesses, DA Casella has been involved in the trial of this case for the past two weeks. He has been motivated first and foremost by a desire to seek justice for the innocent child victim.” 

Surprised by news of the award, Casella responded, “Receiving this award was as overwhelming and unexpected as the nomination was. The honor of this recognition is tremendous and would not have been possible if not for the support, patience, and dedication of my wife, my staff’s commitment and hard work, NYPTI and my fellow prosecutors across the State for their advice and support, and the investigators who worked tirelessly on the case. It is my great honor and privilege to be the Yates County District Attorney, and to belong the larger community of law enforcement and District Attorneys who are committed to the pursuit of justice.”

Although Casella is in his first term as DA, he has lectured at several NYPTI conferences, on topics of interest to both new and experienced prosecutors. Calling Casella “tech-savvy,” Tantillo said he has also authored articles for Empire State Prosecutor, and took it upon himself train many area prosecutors, paralegals, and secretaries in how to comply with N.Y. State’s demanding new discovery requirements. ”Upwards of two dozen employees in many DA offices in the Finger Lakes region and beyond have participated in these training programs,” said Tantillo.