BRENTWOOD — Delegations members are shaping a proposal that would recommend that the Attorney General continue overseeing prosecutions at the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office until a new county attorney is elected by voters.
“We are moving in a direction where we are working something out with the Attorney General’s Office,” State Rep. Norm Major, R-Plaistow, said on Thursday.
Major, the delegation chairman, said a panel of five officers met with county commissioners and Deputy Attorney General Anne Rice on Thursday morning for roughly two hours.
The meeting marked a first step in transitioning from the departure of James Reams, the longtime county attorney who left office on Tuesday prior to state removal proceedings for alleged misconduct.
A settlement with the county paid Reams about $42,000, the remainder of his salary for the year.
The delegation is required by state law to decide whether to appoint an interim leader to fill the remainder of Reams’ elected term.
Delegation members said they agreed on Thursday not to appoint any candidate for Rockingham County Attorney. Five people are registered to run for the office. But the proposal underway will ultimately be voted on by the 90-member county delegation on June 30.
State prosecutors have been stationed at the county attorney’s office monitoring operations since Reams returned to his job on April 30 through a court-approved stipulation.
Prior to that, Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti served as interim county attorney under a court order while Reams was suspended from office.
The state sought to remove Reams after a months-long investigation that probed alleged sexual harassment, misuse of a forfeiture account and ethical violations. Reams denied any wrongdoing.
State Rep. Gene Charron, R-Chester, said he was contacted this week by one of the candidates, Jason Grosky, who expressed concern about any candidate being given an unfair advantage in the election by being appointed as interim-county attorney.
Charron said he shared Grosky’s concern about one candidate being given a leg up in the Sept. 9 primary.
“I feel better that we were in agreement that we would ask the Attorney General to come in and do the same thing they did for us before,” Charron said. The Attorney General’s Office is now working on a memorandum of understanding where a state prosecutor, who would be paid by the Attorney General’s Office, would focus solely on day-to-day operations of the office, according to State Rep. Kevin Waterhouse, R-Windham.
“They had a problem with one of the attorneys in the office this week, and we’re not sure who had the authority to fire him,” he said.
Waterhouse was referring to the arrest of Zachary Cross, an assistant county attorney arrested in Manchester this week on felony drug charges.
Cross was arrested while reportedly working at a second job at a gas station. He has since been stripped from his prosecutorial duties and barred from returning to work. The delegation will meet with the Attorney General’s Office again next Wednesday. A proposal is expected to go to the executive committee next Friday prior to the June 30 vote.