Franklin County Chief ADA Pasqua will seek St. Lawrence County district attorney position in 2017
By ANDY GARDNER
CANTON -- Franklin County Chief Assistant District Attorney Gary Pasqua will seek the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s office next year.
“I am going to run. That has been decided,” said Pasqua, a Republican.He said he decided to seek the position after several years of controversy from District Attorney Mary Rain’s tenure.
“I’ve watched over the last couple years what’s going on in St. Lawrence County. Watching it as a prosecutor, as someone who lives in the North Country, it’s been a failure of the DA’s office to seek justice for the people in St. Lawrence County,” Pasqua said. “I think I have the experience and integrity to seek justice for all the citizens of St. Lawrence County, victims and defendants, and to do it in the utmost ethical and professional way possible.”
Rain has been accused of numerous ethics violations, including in December 2014 when it was revealed she was under FBI investigation for using a St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility inmate to get jailhouse confessions from another inmate.
Pasqua said as far as he knows, he has never had an ethics complaint filed against him.
He criticized a number of felony cases that were dismissed due to speedy trial violations, meaning the case was not brought to court in a timely fashion.
“You need to immediately address the fact that there are so many cases that end up being dismissed for lack of a speedy trial. That should never occur, and it’s never happened in Franklin County for 17 years,” Pasqua said. He added that avoiding a speedy trial dismissal “is as simple as paying attention to what’s going on.”
He also believes he can resolve the problem of high turnover in the local DA’s office, and ensure there is adequate coverage in local courts, which handle cases including traffic charges and low-level offenses such as misdemeanors.
The office has had more than 14 people being hired and leaving for six ADA positions.
Pasqua said he thinks it’s because of the controversy, which wouldn’t be a problem if he were elected. The most recent resignation was former Chief Assistant District Attorney Frank Cositore, who upon quitting wrote a letter accusing Rain of lying and failing crime victims her staff.
“Young attorneys see what’s going on in the county an they don’t want to come here and put their careers at risk,” Pasqua said. “I think they (ADA positions) can be filled quickly and that shouldn’t be a lengthy process.”
He said once the hires are made, adequate staffing in local courts is as simple as ensuring prosecutors are assigned to specific towns and villages.
In August 2015, Rain announced ADAs would no longer make local court appearances. She sent them back six months later but with a huge backlog of unresolved cases. At the time prosecutors returned to local courts, Chief Public Defender Steven Ballan called the move a disaster.
“I think the people of St. Lawrence County need someone to come in from the outside who doesn’t owe anything to anyone politically, who doesn’t carry any grudges, who can do what the people elect them to do which is focus on bringing justice to St. Lawrence County,” Pasqua said.
He has worked for the Franklin County DA’s Office since 2008 and has been chief ADA since January 2015.
He is married to his wife, Mary Ann. They live in Malone and have a three-year-old son, Gary, and a 15-year-old daughter, Abigail, and two older step-children.