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Mary Rain will have a partially staffed DA’s office when she takes over next month

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When Mary E. Rain takes over the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s office on Jan. 1, she will be working with an only partially staffed office.

Ms. Rain said Thursday 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 final roster, Ms. Rain said she will keep Joshua Haberkornhalm on as 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 DA 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 last 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 who 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 who she is thinking about tapping as chief assistant district attorney, but said she plans on making 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. Ms. Rain said she plans on heading into the office Jan. 1 to begin getting acclimated to the lay of the land.

She will be officially sworn in 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 has already begun working on the unsolved murder of 12-year-old Garret J. Phillips, the Potsdam boy who was strangled two years ago.

She is also planning on immediately working on the case of Daniel W. Lester, of Rensselaer Falls, who is alleged to have killed 69-year old Richard F. Morrow, of Canton, Monday night after an alleged drunken hit-and-run on County Route 27 in 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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