Nicholas Scoppetta

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Nicholas Scoppetta (born 1932 in New York City, New York) served as the 31st Fire Commissioner of the City of New York. He was appointed to that position by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on January 1, 2002 and was succeeded by Salvatore Cassano on January 1, 2010.


Nicholas Scoppetta headed a department with an annual budget of more than one billion dollars and with more than 16,000 fire, EMS and civilian members. His extensive experience in government and management spans more than four decades. The department encompasses fire services and emergency medical services.

Scoppetta was the former Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) where he served from 1996 through 2001. His six-year tenure was three times the average tenure of Child Welfare Administrators in New York City. During his tenure from 1996 to 2001, ACS engaged in a comprehensive reform of the city’s child welfare system which won praise from national child welfare experts and the media.

Scoppetta is also a former Deputy Mayor and Commissioner of Investigation for the City of New York. He has served as Associate Counsel to the Knapp Commission, as Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, as Assistant District Attorney for New York County, and as the Deputy Independent Counsel in the investigation and prosecution of a former Special Assistant to the President of the United States.

Childhood and education[edit]

Scoppetta was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1932. He was the youngest son of Italian immigrants, struggling to get by during the Depression.

By the time he was 4, his parents turned him and his two older brothers, Tony and Vincent, over to the city's care, initially in a shelter on 104th Street. At first, the three boys were separated, he said, but they were reunited a year or so later by a chance encounter at the dentist's office, where his brother Tony recognized him. Together, he and his brothers ended up in a group home in the Bronx called Woodycrest—now an AIDS hospice. They stayed until he was 12 and they were reunited with their parents.

Scoppetta attended public schools in Manhattan, including Seward Park High School, from where he graduated in 1950.

After serving two years in the Army, he attended Bradley University on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1958 with a degree in Civil Engineering. While enrolled at Bradley, he joined Sigma Chi Fraternity.

In 1959 he was awarded a New York State Regents Scholarship and attended Brooklyn Law School at night while working in the criminal courts during the day assisting in the investigation and prosecution of cases in which children had been abused or neglected. He graduated from law school in 1962.

Career in federal and city government[edit]

Shortly after he was admitted to the bar in New York City in 1962, he was appointed an Assistant District Attorney in New York County by District Attorney Frank S. Hogan. He served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan D.A.'s Office until 1969.

In 1969, Scoppetta became an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

In 1971, he served as Associate Counsel to the Knapp Commission, which investigated corruption in the New York City Police Department.

In 1972, he served for a brief time as Deputy Independent Counsel in the investigation and prosecution of a former Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon.

On December 1, 1972, Scoppetta was appointed Commissioner of Investigation for the City of New York by Mayor John Lindsay, and was re-appointed to that position by Mayor Abraham Beame in 1974.

On August 1, 1974, Scoppetta was accused by New York City Controller Harrison J. Goldin of "instructing" a civil servant in the Controller's office to make entries in the Controller's books that were not there when his auditors looked at them.[1]

Scoppetta denounced the accusation as "outrageous", and a subsequent investigation by New York State Special Prosecutor Maurice H. Nadjari cleared Scoppetta of any wrongdoing.[2]

On December 6, 1976, Beame named Scoppetta to the newly created post of Deputy Mayor for Criminal Justice while still remaining in his post as Commissioner of Investigation. He held both positions until he was replaced by incoming Mayor Ed Koch on January 5, 1978.

Private practice[edit]

After leaving public service in 1978, Scoppetta joined the faculty of New York University School of Law where he was a Professor of Law and Director of the Institute of Judicial Administration.

In 1979, New York Governor Hugh Carey appointed Scoppetta to a post on the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

In 1980, Scoppetta, along with Eric A. Seiff (a long-time friend from his days at the Manhattan D.A.'s Office), founded the law firm of Scoppetta & Seiff (now known as Seiff Kretz & Abercrombie), where he engaged in the private practice of law until his full-time return to public service in 1996 as the first commissioner of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services.

From February 1995 to January 1996, he was Chairman of the five-member Commission to Combat Police Corruption which was created by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to monitor the New York City Police Department’s anti-corruption efforts.

Return to city government[edit]

On January 11, 1996, Giuliani announced the creation of the Administration for Children’s Services and appointed Scoppetta the agency’s first commissioner. ACS is the city’s first independent agency devoted entirely to services for children, with a commissioner reporting directly to the mayor.

Not-for-profit/non-profit advisory work[edit]

Scoppetta is a past President and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Children's Aid Society, a not-for-profit social service agency which annually serves more than 200,000 needy children in New York City. He was a member of that Board for sixteen years.

He has served on numerous boards of other not-for-profit institutions and is a past member of the Executive Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

He is currently the president of New Yorkers For Children, and organization which he founded in 1996 as the non-profit partner to the Administration for Children's Services.

Awards and professional recognition[edit]

On January 14, 1997, Scoppetta was awarded the Hogan-Morgenthau Award of the Hogan-Morgenthau Associates, an organization of former and present assistant district attorneys on the staffs of the Manhattan District Attorneys Frank Hogan and Robert M. Morgenthau.

Family life[edit]

Scoppetta lives in New York City with his wife Susan, a psychotherapist. He has two children, Andrea, who holds a master’s degree in social work and Eric, who is/was an attorney and a partner at the law firm of Scoppetta Kelley & Lee.


External links[edit]

Fire appointments
Preceded by
Robert K. Ruskin
Commissioner of NYC Department of Investigation
Succeeded by
Stanley N. Lupkin
Preceded by
Commissioner of NYC Administration for Children's Services
Succeeded by
William C. Bell
Preceded by
Thomas Von Essen
FDNY Commissioner
Succeeded by
Salvatore Cassano