Lawmakers Staying Out Of DA-Administrator Dispute

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County legislative finance committee chair Fred Morrill says legislators should keep an open mind about allegations of wrongdoing involving the county administrator and other employees involving hundreds of thousands of county dollars.

"There is a division of powers in government that's there for a reason," Morrill said. "This is a judicial matter and we're a legislative branch of government. We need to keep it at arm's length."

District Attorney Mary Rain wants a state investigation and audit into what she says was the improper use of drug forfeiture funds to purchase microphones and electronic sound equipment for the legislative chambers.

"It doesn't mean that the board is responsible because they go under the guidance of the county administrator," Rain said.

The DA is also planning to convene a grand jury to look into whether the county's failure to reapply for a multi-year half-million-dollar state grant to fund two victim advocates in her office was intentional.

"We're going to look in to see if there's any nonfeasance, misconduct or any neglect on the part of they department head, being Ms. St. Hilaire, or anyone who assisted her by either not applying for the grant or the misuse of these funds," Rain said.

In an email obtained by 7 News sent to Rain from County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire, St. Hilaire says what the DA is saying "is in large part accurate."

When interviewed Tuesday, the county administrator denied any wrongdoing involving the grant application. She also defended the use of the drug forfeiture funds for board room sound equipment.

"I can't waste my time trying to figure out what someone's motivation is," St. Hilaire said. "I just have the job to do."

Some legislators say they recall being told the funds for the equipment came from grant monies.
 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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