Legal staffing discussed at Essex County committee meeting

Essex County Board of Supervisors

Essex County Board of Supervisors Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— County attorney Daniel Manning asked Essex County lawmakers March 10 for a resolution to recruit assistant public defenders and assistant district attorneys from adjoining counties.

“It’s tough to attract them,” he said. “They have said this would aid them significantly.”

Essex County does not have residency requirements for their staffers, said personal director Monica Feeley. The exception is the Deputy Sheriff’s Office and public officers. Since they are appointed officials, they require residency.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Mike Langey introduced a resolution March 10 for the board to approve the allotment of money previously approved by an earlier grant secured by the Essex County Department of Social Services for three assistant district attorneys.

“The grant provides for $7,000 to be distributed to the District Attorney’s office and I have chosen to disburse this to the of the ADA’s who will handle these additional responsibilities,” said District Attorney Kristy Sprague.

The grant was initially approved by the board of supervisors through the normal budget process, but when the resolutions were typed up and presented to the board, this one was incorrect, said Sprague, and the grant monies were not included in the ADA’s salaries.

“This is a collaborative effort among our county agencies to work together to detect, prevent and prosecute fraud in the area of child care,” said Sprague. “It’s not that these are cases we wouldn’t normally prosecute, but these are additional cases that will add to our caseload as well as added responsibilities of educating the public and attending task force meetings.”

Sprague said her office would surely prosecute any fraud crimes that were referred to them.

“Social services has their own attorney and investigators, but now we collaborate and help with the additional cases that come through.”

Sprague said prevention of this fraud is her office’s goal but detection is the key.

“When cases are detected and criminal liability is there, then those cases will be prosecuted by my office. This will save taxpayer dollars and insure them money allocated to families for child care is being spent appropriately and legitimately for child care needs. We will seek restitution of any funds secured by fraudulent means.”

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