Fulton Co. sheriff believed to be only person in NY to serve as D.A., county judge, and sheriff | WNYT.com

Fulton Co. sheriff believed to be only person in NY to serve as D.A., county judge, and sheriff

August 26, 2019 07:07 PM

JOHNSTOWN - Rich Giardino is at ease in his role as sheriff because he's been preparing his whole life for it.

Childhood arthritis kept him in bed for much of his third grade year in Gloversville, so he read trial transcripts provided by his godfather and watched shows about crime fighting.

"I liked cops and robbers," smiled Giardino Monday during an interview at his office.

After graduating from Siena College and Albany Law, he took a job in the Nassau County District Attorney Office, but soon he was back in Fulton County knocking off the incumbent D.A.

In a a bit of forseshadowing, Giardino was wearing a Fulton County Sheriff shirt when he was photographed for the local newspaper in a story about his victory.

At 35, he was elected County Judge, the second youngest county judge in the state at the time.

He presided over 200 trials across the region, including 40 murder and attempted murder trials.

He says he loved the bench, but the outgoing Giardino didn't like that judges can't offer opinions or be a real part of their communities.
 "It inhibits your ability to be involved in things," he said about being a judge.

So Giardino saw the sheriff's job as the next challenge. He says the judgeship and the D.A. job prepared him for it.

He knows what's needed for an arrest, and a conviction.

"I find it very helpful to have that," he says of his experience as a prosecutor and judge.

Even though he's just 60-years-old, Giardino says he's been at it so long, he's now working with a third generation of officers.

Giardino has overcome Crohn's Disease and diabetes, and credits his first generation Italian-American immigrant parents with instilling in him a tireless work ethic.

Former Supreme Court Justice Joe Sise first saw that while they were students at Siena.

"He had boundless energy and he was going to be a success at whatever he chose to do," said Sise.

"I'm very fortunate," Giardino said. "I've had three jobs that a lot of people in these professions would work all their life to get and never succeed."

The sheriff saying Monday that he has no plans to seek another job. "I like being close to home. Fulton County has been really good to me. The people here have been really good to me."


Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved