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Mary Rain to start with limited staffing in DA’s office

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OGDENSBURG — When Mary E. Rain takes over the St. Lawrence County district attorney’s office Jan. 1, she will be working with an only partially staffed office.

Ms. Rain said Thursday that she would rather take several weeks to find qualified candidates to serve as assistant district attorneys than have an office staffed with people who don’t know what they’re doing.

In total, Ms. Rain said, she plans to hire seven full-time assistant district attorneys and one part-timer.

Though she hasn’t announced her roster, Ms. Rain said she will keep Joshua A. HaberkornHalm on as an assistant district attorney, and Assistant District Attorney Otis Simon will stay on for a few months during the transition period.

Sara Clothier, who has worked as an unpaid assistant district attorney since November under District Attorney Nicole M. Duve, will be hired as a full-time ADA, Ms. Rain said.

Originally from Clare, Ms. Clothier spent the past nine years in Massachusetts working as a criminal attorney, Ms. Rain said, adding that everyone who knows her speaks “very highly of her abilities.”

She said she will also bring Ogdensburg’s part-time city judge in as an ADA.

A. Michael Gebo will begin working for Ms. Rain on Feb. 1 after he finishes his work in the city.

Ogdensburg Mayor William D. Nelson could not be reached Thursday for comment on whom he intends to appoint to fill Mr. Gebo’s position. Mr. Nelson appointed Mr. Gebo to the part-time judgeship in 2011.

Ms. Rain said she won’t comment on whom she is thinking about tapping as chief assistant district attorney, but said she plans to make the announcement no later than April 1.

Although she will start with a staff of only four people, Ms. Rain said, she is ready to get to work Jan. 2, after the holiday. She said she plans to head into the office Jan. 1 to begin getting familiar with it.

She will be sworn in officially Saturday at Ogdensburg City Hall.

“There is a list of 240 felonies that need my attention right away because of time constraints,” she said. “If I could go in now, I would.”

Ms. Rain said she already has begun working on the unsolved murder of 12-year-old Garret J. Phillips, the Potsdam boy who was strangled two years ago.

She also is planning to work immediately on the case of Daniel W. Lester, Rensselaer Falls, who faces vehicular manslaughter and other charges in the hit-and-run death Monday night of 69-year old Richard F. Morrow of Canton.

“We have to focus our attentions on the cases that need us most,” Ms. Rain said.

Part of the effort to determine what cases need the most attention has been talking with law enforcement agencies across the county, Ms. Rain said.

“I started doing that within a week of being elected,” she said. “I’ve spoken with just about everybody who I think will be affected immediately upon my taking over.”

So far she has received a “very positive” reaction from law enforcement.

“They want to have an idea of how I’m going to affect their particular offices,” she said.

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