Suffolk County Legislator Dr. William Spencer (D-Centerport) has stepped down from his post as leader of the legislature’s Democratic majority a day after he was accused of trading pills for sex.
Spencer, a physician, was also removed from his post was chairman of the county legislature’s health committee and his assignment on the panel’s heroin and opiate epidemic advisory panel.
“There is nothing in the law that requires a legislator to resign while charges are pending, and while the allegations against Legislator Spencer are serious, he is entitled to his day in court,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Pathchogue). “My colleagues and I remain focused on continuing the business of the people. The Democratic caucus will convene in the future to select a new majority leader, and a new health committee chair will be chosen in due time.”
Authorities arrested Spencer on Tuesday after he allegedly agreed to trade two prescription painkillers for sex from an undercover investigator posing as a sex worker, prosecutors said. He pleaded not guilty to two felony drug charges. The investigation is continuing.
Suffolk GOP Chairman Jesse Garcia has called for Spencer to step down, although Democratic leaders stopped short of demanding the lawmaker resign.
He is not the only sitting legislator with a a case pending trial in criminal court. Suffolk Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic) was arrested in 2019 on perjury charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court next month. In that case, Garcia defended the fellow Republican and said the lawmaker should not step down.