The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 7, 2014

New DA seeks personnel to address 'overwhelming' caseload

— SUNBURY — Pending personnel changes in the district attorney’s office will address the overwhelming caseload in Northumberland County that includes three homicide cases, according to new Northumberland County District Attorney Ann Targonski.

Targonski, who was sworn in as district attorney Thursday, confirmed today that she is requesting a salary board meeting on July 15 to create a part-time position in addition to hiring a full-time assistant district attorney to replace her.

Once the new staff is in place and fully trained, Targonski is confident that the two extra bodies will “make a big difference” in the case preparation.

“They’ll be covering things so we (the rest of the staff) can spend our time preparing instead of in court handling routine matters,” she said.

In the meantime, Tony Matulewicz, a solicitor in the sheriff’s office and Mount Carmel Borough Council president, will be working full time in the office for the next two weeks starting today.

Once the position is created, Matulewicz will fill the part-time position and attorney Julia Skinner will be hired to fill the full-time position, Targonski said.

“I’m excited about it and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m asking everyone to be patient as we have two new people coming in,” Targonski said.

Targonski replaced Tony Rosini, who was sworn in as a county judge Thursday.

While Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Stephen Bridy voted June 17 to not fund the assistant district attorney position that was reinstated at the May 20 salary board meeting, Clausi extended an invitation to Rosini to discuss the possibility of a part-time ADA position.

The “overwhelming caseload” Rosini and Targonski are referring to includes murder suspects Miranda and Elytte Barbour, who police say killed 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara, of Port Trevorton, on Nov. 11 in Sunbury; and murder suspect Robert Thomas, who police say killed his 64-yearold wife, Patricia Thomas, of Turbot Township, in 2012 in their home.

The cut to Rosini’s staff in January 2012 was one of 11 county positions eliminated by the salary board as part of a plan to cover a projected $1.4 million deficit.

The loss of the ADA position crippled the departments ability to effectively prosecute criminals and other cases, Rosini argued in May.

Currently, with Targonski’s appointment, the department has three assistant district attorneys, one victim/witness coordinator and three secretaries.

‘Good fits’

Matulewicz is “young and very eager to learn. He’s enthusiastic. That’s what I need, and what I like,” Targonski said.

Matulewicz has worked in the Northumberland County Sheriff’s office as an independently contracted attorney for mortgage foreclosures and legal advice since 2008. He has also been on the Mount Carmel borough council since 2008.

He is familiar with most of the attorneys in the office, Targonski said.

Skinner, an attorney from Mount Carmel working in Monroe County for the judges, previously interned with the district attorney’s office and is an “eager and aggressive prosecutor,” Targonski said.

Both individuals are “good fits,” Targonski said.

Matulewicz will be compensated at a salary of $46,290 a year for the full-time position and will received a salary of approximately $33,000 when he is moved to the part-time position. Skinner’s salary will be $46,900.

Targonski said a first assistant district attorney will not be appointed at this time.

“We’re going to let things settle for a little bit and then make that determination,” she said.

The salary board, once approved and advertised, will meet at 1 p.m. before the regular commissioners meeting in the Northumberland County Administration Building.

Commissioners Clausi, Bridy and Rick Shoch, Controller Christopher Grayson and Targonski will vote on the motion to create the part-time position.

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