Public Defender Calls Cost Of Operation Gravy Train 'Staggering'

Public Defender Calls Cost Of Operation Gravy Train 'Staggering'

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St. Lawrence County's chief public defender says the cost of Operation Gravy Train, for his office, is grossly understated.

The county's largest drug raid in history happened almost two weeks ago as 106 suspects were rounded up in Massena, Ogdensburg and Gouverneur.

Following our reporting, Steve Ballan clarified how much the defense would cost the taxpayers.

He gave us a breakdown which he calls "staggering."

He believes it'll take 75 lawyers from as far away as Syracuse to handle the two indictments at a cost of $75 an hour for each lawyer.

Ballan points out the state Attorney General's Office says there are hundreds of hours of wire taps.

He said assuming that means 200 hours, that would be $15,000 for each attorney just to listen to the wire taps.

Multiply that by 75 attorneys and that's $1.1 million for listening to the recordings.

Ballan said that doesn't take into account the lawyers reviewing documents and other work on the cases.

His breakdown is for 75 lawyers, but we now know it'll be more.

County Administrator Ruth Doyle confirmed Monday that 50 lawyers have been assigned to cases and they are looking for another 40 attorneys.

Back to the math: take the new total of 90 lawyers and just to listen to the wire taps, according the Ballan's math, the cost is up another quarter of a million dollars.

That brings the figure to a new total of $1.35 million to prepare to defend the suspects.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Kevin Wells is expected to ask the county's Operations Committee for $150,000 to pay for boarding out inmates to other jails because his jail is full as a result of Operation Gravy Train.

The request is higher than his original estimate of $100,000. We'll be covering the committee meeting Monday night.

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