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March 27. 2013 9:25PM

U.S. Attorney Kacavas not interested in NH Attorney General post

CONCORD - Widely named as a possible candidate for state attorney general, U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire John P. Kacavas said he intends to stay at his federal post to oversee his office's prosecution of several significant cases, including a suspected drug diversion case that led to a hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital.

"In another time, in another place, it would be the honor of a lifetime," Kacavas, 52, said Wednesday.

"I have a job I want to finish here," the former senior assistant attorney general and homicide bureau chief added.

Among the cases his office is prosecuting is that of an alleged drug-addicted traveling medical technician accused of infecting patients with hepatitis C while he worked at Exeter Hospital. The blood-borne virus can cause chronic liver disease.

David Kwiatkowski, 33, a Michigan native who worked in Kansas, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Georgia before he began working at Exeter Hospital in 2011, stands trial Oct. 1. He is accused of injecting himself with syringes filled with the painkiller fentanyl that were intended for patients, refilling them with saline, and then placing them back in the tray to be used on patients.

The government alleges Kwiatkowski infected 32 patients. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

New Hampshire is taking the lead in the case which involves not just New Hampshire, but other states where Kwiatkowski worked, Kacavas said.

A successful prosecution could result in changes to national public health policy so that "systems and checks" would be enacted to correct current "gaps" in the system, he said.

"How do hospitals fail to report diversion of drugs?" Kacavas asked. "These are issues that I hope this case will illuminate for the country frankly and to the good, so that something like this does not happen again."

Kacavas said his office also is prosecuting four members of the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel, computer hacking cases and several high-profile child pornography prosecutions.

Kacavas said Gov. Maggie Hassan has not discussed with him the prospect of succeeding Michael A. Delaney as attorney general. He did not rule out interest in the job in the future.

"I would never rule anything out forever," he said.

Besides Kacavas, other possible candidates being floated by political insiders are Lucy C. Hodder, the governor's legal counsel; former Senate Majority Leader Joseph A. Foster; Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice; and Martha Van Oot of Jackson Lewis LLP's Portsmouth office.

District 5 Executive Councilor Debra Pignatelli of Nashua said her husband, Michael Pignatelli, would "probably be the best candidate," but said he expressed no interest in the job.

Michael Pignatelli is a founding shareholder of the Rath, Young and Pignatelli law firm in Concord and former head of the state attorney general's criminal division bureau.

kmarchocki@unionleader.com

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