ALBANY, N.Y. — A top New York forensic science administrator found by state investigators to have sexually harassed co-workers has been fired from his job for an inappropriate remark made during a meeting, state officials confirmed Friday.

The Department of Criminal Justice Services said Brian Gestring was fired Thursday, four days after the Times Union of Albany reported a state inspector general’s investigation found he had threatened female employees with physical violence and sexual harassed others.

The firing, first reported by the newspaper, came two days after DCJS said it received information that Gestring made an inappropriate remark at an “offsite work meeting” in June 2017. Details of the remark weren’t released.

“That matter was fully investigated and after a review of the findings, DCJS terminated Mr. Gestring’s employment,” the agency said.

Gestring was director of the agency’s Office of Forensic Science. A phone number for him isn’t listed.

Janine Kava, A DCJS spokeswoman, said the firing wasn’t related to the sexual harassment investigation.

The 48-year-old Gestring, a former New York Police Department forensic scientist, joined DCJS in July 2012 to run the agency’s office that oversees the state’s DNA database and public forensic laboratories. According to the Times Union, the investigation into allegations of workplace sexual harassment began last May when the inspector general’s office was looking into an unrelated matter involving another DCJS employee.

The Times Union reported that it obtained details of the inspector general’s investigation that showed Gestring engaged in years of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior. The inspector general’s office doesn’t comment on ongoing investigative matters, a spokesman said Friday.

The inspector general’s investigators turned their findings over to DCJS in October. The agency then launched its own investigation, interviewing 18 people, Kava said. The agency determined the allegations couldn’t be substantiated, she said.

At least two female DCJS staffers provided testimony about Gestring for the inspector general’s investigation, the Times Union reported. One was transferred to a different department, while the other, a DCJS attorney, was fired in December but was able to fall back to another DCJS position because of state employment rules, taking a $40,000-a-year pay cut, the newspaper reported.

State officials are looking into whether the attorney was unfairly demoted, while the DCJS and inspector general’s findings have been referred to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics for an independent review, according to the Cuomo administration.

“Anyone who is found to have engaged in inappropriate or retaliatory behavior will be held responsible to the fullest extent possible,” said Cuomo counsel Alphonso David.

The firing and revelations about the sexual harassment findings come amid vows by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the Republican-led Senate to crack down on sexual harassment in state government. Cuomo and both chambers are trying to negotiate a comprehensive policy on reporting and investigating sexual harassment complaints to replace the current system that’s criticized as being piecemeal and too complicated.


This story has been corrected to show comments from Cuomo’s administration were given by Alphonso David, not Richard Azzopardi.