MacVean says DA’s office overstaffed

JOHNSTOWN – A Fulton County supervisor is opposing the district attorney’s plan to use a federal grant to help pay for one of her assistants, saying the prosecutor’s office already is overstaffed and the county has better ways to use the money.

District Attorney Louise Sira on Monday told the supervisors’ Public Safety Committee her office had received a 2013 Stop Violence Against Women grant. The county routinely earns the $33,000 award and uses it to cover the salary of its part-time fourth assistant district attorney, Kelli McCoski.

But Johnstown town Supervisor Nancy MacVean voted against a resolution that would have accepted the grant, but she didn’t offer comment to the committee. The measure passed with the support of the other committee members.

After the meeting, MacVean said the county “has too many assistant district attorneys” and should use the money to help abused women in a more targeted way.

“I think we should be using it to get them cellphones and counseling, or maybe karate lessons so they can defend themselves,” MacVean said after the meeting.

Sira said the county has a cellphone turn-in program, which provides free phones to victims of domestic violence, and there are several counseling options for abused women throughout the community.

“But karate lessons? I don’t know how to respond to that,” Sira said.

MacVean said with four assistant district attorneys, the department is overstaffed. She said in the 1990s, the office consisted of the district attorney and one assistant.

Sira, who joined the county as assistant district attorney in 1994, said at that time, there was a quarter of the workload and less crime.

The county also received the grant in 2012, MacVean’s first year as supervisor, and she didn’t oppose the funds paying for an assistant district attorney then, but she said she’s “lost some faith in the justice system.”

In August, MacVean brought a harassment charge against town Councilman Walt Lane, accusing him of grabbing her arm and twisting it during a Town Board workshop.

The district attorney’s office prosecuted the case in November, but a judge ruled Lane was not guilty. MacVean called the ruling a joke.

The Board of Supervisors will vote whether to accept the grant at its Feb. 11 meeting.

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