AG takes over county prosecutor’s office, citing failures
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s attorney general, citing a failure of leadership in several criminal cases in the state’s most populated county, took over day-to-day prosecutorial duties of that office Friday after the person in charge refused to resign.
Attorney General Gordon MacDonald sent a letter to Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Conlon appointing former Manchester Police Chief David Mara as an assistant attorney general to oversee criminal cases.
Conlon was elected to county attorney and started in January. Messages were left for him seeking comment. He told the New Hampshire Union Leader, “It’s great to hear they’re finally taking some action to fully support the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office.”
Conlon on Thursday wrote a letter rejecting MacDonald’s suggestion that he resign and asked that resources be made available to his office.
Conlon wrote that the office “has suffered greatly under its recent stewards; its staff has workloads more than double other offices around the state, has struggled with morale and staff retention, and its ability to effectively communicate with law enforcement and other agencies regarding cases has eroded into a state of crisis.”
MacDonald criticized Conlon’s handling and oversight on several cases. In one, Conlon didn’t review a decision to drop charges in a domestic violence case in which a woman died.
In another, a prosecutor in the office dropped a stalking case with confidential conditions, which didn’t conform to state law.
In yet another case, Manchester’s police chief criticized a plea bargain in which the father of a toddler who died of a drug overdose received a five-year prison sentence.
“As you acknowledged, prosecutors in your office have made critical decisions with respect to the disposition of these matters without your involvement or knowledge, without consulting with the investigating agency, and in some instances, without informing the victim(s),” MacDonald’s letter said.
MacDonald said the ongoing issues show “systemic failures in leadership,” despite attempts from his office to help.
Mara was with the Manchester Police Department for nearly 30 years, serving as a prosecutor and supervisor of its legal division. More recently, he’s been Gov. Chris Sununu’s adviser on addiction and behavioral health.
“We thank him for his willingness to take on this critical challenge on behalf of our state,” Sununu said in a statement.