SUNBURY — Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini is fighting to bring back an assistant district attorney position eliminated two years ago because of budget constraints.
Commissioner Vinny Clausi confirmed that the request for the new position will be considered at a salary board meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The cut to Rosini’s staff in January 2012 was one of 11 county positions to be eliminated by Commissioners Clausi, Stephen Bridy and Rick Shoch, and then-Controller Tony Phillips, as part of a plan to cover a projected $1.4 million deficit.
Clausi is urging the salary board members to deny Rosini’s request on Tuesday, but Shoch may be reconsidering his original vote from two years ago.
“He’s (Rosini) been without a person for the last two years? Why is he asking now?” Clausi said. “He’s busy with the murder trial? Baloney. He should work a little harder.”
Clausi is referencing the case of murder suspects Miranda and Elytte Barbour, who police say killed 42-year old Troy LaFerrara, of Port Trevorton, on Nov. 11 in Sunbury.
We have a high number of serious cases, including two murder defendants now pending and other cases under investigation,” Rosini said. “We have had a drastic increase in drug prosecutions and violent crime. My staff and I can barely keep up with the hearings we have scheduled let alone do preparation for trials and write briefs. We are not just understaffed, we are critically understaffed.
It’s easy to say work harder, but you can’t be in two different places for hearings at the same time during the day. Nor can you adequately prepare for hearings or research briefs for county and appellate courts if you are constantly in court.”
No advice from state group
Northumberland County, with a population of approximately 94,000, is a fifth-class county with four assistant district attorneys, including first assistant Ann Targonski.
In comparison with other fifth-class counties, Adams County has five assistant district attorneys, Blair County has seven full-time and two part-time, Lawrence County has five full-time and one part-time and Lycoming County has six.
Richard Long, executive director of the Pennsylvania District Attorney Association, said the organization does not recommend any set number of assistant district attorneys for counties of any size.
“Case loads vary from county to county,” he said. “Depending on the nature of the county, whether it has an urban center or rural, that could impact on terms of case loads.”
District attorneys in smaller counties are usually “spread pretty thin,” Long said. “Any additional manpower they can muster is usually well-deserved or needed.”