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Former DA Duve named St. Lawrence County conflict special prosecutor

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CANTON — Familiarity with felony criminal cases landed former St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duve the job of the county’s special prosecutor.

Ms. Duve will be handling the cases of defendants who previously had been represented by District Attorney Mary E. Rain that remained open after she took office on Jan. 1.

County Judge Jerome J. Richards decided to appoint Ms. Duve during the first week of January, and said he did so because of her time spent working on these cases as district attorney.

“The reason she was chosen was for her knowledge in general,” Judge Richards said. “If you assign somebody else it would have cost a lot more, and she is already up to speed.”

Hiring an attorney unfamiliar with the cases would have cost the county more as a result of the time spent getting up to speed on the cases, Judge Richards added.

Ms. Duve is billing the county $125 an hour for her services. She said while there is no standard rate that special prosecutors are paid, typical costs are $100 to $150 an hour.

“When I was asked, I, of course, said yes,” Ms. Duve said. “My having recently been in the office, I have a certain sense of familiarity with the files already.”

Ms. Duve will be handling some high-profile cases, including the trial of Bobbie Jo Zeller, the Norfolk woman accused of bilking a priest and others out of some $300,000. Ms. Rain had represented Ms. Zeller in Massena Town Court on unrelated petit larceny charges.

Other cases to which Ms. Duve has been assigned include Olajuwon J. Holt,19, Rochester, charged in an April drug-related stabbing and robbery in Ogdensburg; Tige K. Smith Jr., 25, the last remaining defendant of four Buffalo men who were charged in January 2013 with being involved in an Ogdensburg-area drug ring, and the rape case against Trevor J. Secore, 19, Massena, who is charged with two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child after he allegedly had sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl in the summer of 2012 and again in January 2013, after she had turned 14.

“There are probably going to be several conflicts out there, even cases that have been closed where people have been sentenced to probation,” Ms. Duve said. If those defendants were represented by Ms. Rain, Ms. Duve might be looking at trying them as well.

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