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DA proposes new use for old jail

QUEENSBURY - Converting the former Warren County jail into temporary housing for people now being put up in hotels at county expense may not only save $500,000 per year, but it would likely cut down on crime, county District Attorney Kate Hogan said Tuesday, June 2.

County leaders have been angry that drug dealers claiming poverty were shacking up in upscale hotels in Queensbury and Lake George at taxpayer expense and selling heroin substitutes, according to reports by county law enforcement agents.

Hogan said yesterday that this new proposal to convert the empty jail to apartment-style housing would cut down on such illegal activity, because no drug dealer would operate with dozens of law enforcement officers housed nearby in the new Public Safety building. This facility houses the new, expanded, modern jail which in 2004 replaced the old one that now stands empty.

County leaders heard a proposal last week from Hogan and county Commissioner of Social Services Sheila Weaver to rebuild the jail to slash the cost of housing people who are temporarily homeless, unable to pay rent and seek housing assistance. Last year, Warren County paid $500,000 for such temporary assistance, Hogan said.

"Those people now milking the county and using taxpayers' money for a hotel room to set up drug dealing, will have nothing to do with housing converted from jail cells," Hogan said. "But those in legitimate need would have a clean place to stay, where they can get up in the morning and look for a job."

About two months ago, Weaver and law enforcement agents alerted county supervisors that some drug dealers, who claim to be homeless, are illegally obtaining multiple prescriptions of pain killers Oxycontin, Vicodin and Hydrocodone at government expense on Medicaid cards and selling it for a profit out of posh hotel rooms paid for by local taxpayers.

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