CONCORD — Veteran Rockingham County Attorney James Reams is the “target of an ongoing criminal investigation,” according to Associate Attorney General Jane Young.
Young made the statement to Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara on Thursday during a hearing in which Reams’ attorney, Michael Ramsdell, argued the Attorney General’s Office should provide evidence of any wrongdoing.
Young also expressed “deep concerns” about statements Reams has made to the media in recent days.
“His recent conduct of publicly lashing out against his employees to generate a defense is shocking behavior for a county attorney,” Young wrote in an objection filed Thursday in response to Reams’ request for an expedited hearing and discovery. “Witnesses have contacted the Attorney General’s Office to express concern that Mr. Reams is providing information that may allow them to be identified. He has attacked the credibility and reputation of his own employees.”
Reams was suspended Nov. 7, after the attorney general and the U.S. Attorney’s Office kicked off an investigation. Attorney General Joe Foster and U.S. Attorney John Kacavas have said the investigation centers on “operational and managerial” issues within Reams ’ office.
In a court motion filed Monday, Reams asked the court to provide him with details and evidence related to the investigation. Reams claims he has been given limited information about the investigation, which the motion says includes allegations of sexual harassment from female employees.
Reams told the New Hampshire Union Leader this week the allegations were “absolutely false.”
Ramsdell argued that Reams was suspended five weeks ago, and he and his client have yet to be made aware of any specific charges against him.
“How long will this investigation go on?” asked Ramsdell. “There needs to be a goal line to cross. We have no idea where the goal line is at this point.”
“Not only is discovery at this stage of an ongoing investigation inappropriate, it would be damaging to the investigation itself,” argued Young. “In this case, Mr. Reams is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation. Because the investigation is still ongoing, and no arrests have been made, the discovery requirements haven’t been triggered.”
Ramsdell argued that the AG’s office should hand over more information regarding their probe so they can challenge the state’s decision to suspend Reams.
Young said her office has hired an independent auditor to assist in its investigation.
“As of today, we may have topped 50 witnesses,” said Young. “Attorney Ramsdell keeps bringing up that it has been five weeks. We could say that it has only been five weeks. These are very complex financial issues that are being reviewed.”
On Wednesday, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported that a forfeiture account once controlled by Reams had come under scrutiny as part of the investigation into his office. Bank statements for the forfeiture account — obtained through a Right-to-Know request — show that $25,241.91 in electronic payments was made to an American Express card dating back to 2007.
Reams acknowledged in an interview that the credit card belongs to him. He said the money paid to the credit card reimbursed him for travel expenses incurred while attending conferences held by the National District Attorneys Association.
Justice McNamara did not grant an expedited hearing or discovery on Thursday.
A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19 in Merrimack Superior Court, where Ramsdell will argue that the attorney general’s actions removing Reams from his elected office were unconstitutional, because no criminal charges have been filed.