Deputy County Attorney latest to resign amid investigation into Rockingham County Attorney's Office
BRENTWOOD – Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid resigned from his job on Friday, marking the second departure from the Rockingham County Attorney's Office since it came under the scrutiny of state and federal investigators.
Reid was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 6 by the Rockingham County commissioners the same night as his boss, Rockingham County Attorney James Reams, was temporarily suspended by Attorney General Joe Foster.
The wide-ranging probe in the county attorney's office has focused on management and operational issues, including the management of a forfeiture account and allegations that Reams sexually harassed employees.
Tara Longo, a victim-witness coordinator, also resigned on Thursday after working in the office for 16 years.
County commissioners and the attorney general's office refused to elaborate on why Reid was displaced from his job for two months prior to his departure from a job he has held since March 1997.
"The investigation is ongoing and I can't talk about it while the investigation is continuing," Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards said.
Attorney General Joe Foster revealed for the first time on Friday that Reid has been cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
Reid's attorney, Brian Quirk, suggested on Friday that his client could have mounted a legal challenge to being ousted from his job, but decided to go another route.
"It is my understanding that Attorney Reid was suspended temporarily to help facilitate the attorney general's investigation into the operational and management issues of the office," Quirk said. "While there may have been legal grounds to challenge the suspension, Attorney Reid does not have unlimited resources and instead chose to work in a cooperative manner."
Foster said in a released statement that Reid was not the target of their criminal probe, and that the investigation has not revealed any evidence that he engaged in any criminal conduct.
"Mr. Reid has cooperated during our investigation, and we anticipate he will continue to cooperate with our ongoing investigation," Foster said.
Reid said in a statement released by his lawyer that, "The manner in which the investigation has been handled has taken a significant toll on my family. I also recognize that a continued suspension with pay is unfair to the taxpayers of Rockingham County. Therefore, I have resigned effective today."
Quirk released prepared statements from Sheriff Michael Downing, Registrar of Deeds Cathy Stacey and Plaistow police Chief Steven Savage that praised Reid for his work.
"He was the go-to-guy with our legal questions and on all our major cases," Downing said. "We relied on him. He's hard to replace."
Reid, who was worked as a county prosecutor since March 1997, was selected by Reams to be his second-in-command after he was first elected as the county's top law enforcement officer roughly 15 years ago.
He is leaving the office with $38,130 in earned time for vacation and sick days that he never took, according to county records obtained through a Right-to-Know request. Longo likewise left her job with $9,455 in earned time, county records say.
"He has resigned and subject to county policy, he will be paid his earned time," County Commissioner Kevin Coyle said.
On Friday, county commissioners and Interim-County Attorney James Boffetti refused to elaborate on any aspect of Reid's sudden departure.
"I am not going to comment on it at all," Boffetti said. "It's a personnel matter."
County commissioners received a resignation letter from Reid about 1 p.m. on Friday. Commissioners met privately with representatives with the state Attorney General's Office late Thursday.
The county released Reid's resignation letter, which read, in part: "I have remained ever mindful of the tremendous responsibility one has as a prosecutor and keeper of the public trust. I have always been dedicated to ensuring that justice was done."
Reams is due back in court on Tuesday to further challenge his temporary suspension by the attorney general, and a decision by county commissioners to bar him from entering his office.