County Legislature Chairman Leader Addresses Growing Concerns About DA’s Office


Credit Kyle Heelas/wnynewsnow

JAMESTOWN – A county lawmaker said the recent mistrials tied to the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office is costing tax payers money and putting unnecessary stress on other entities in our community.

“It’s very concerning and very disheartening,” said Chautauqua County Legislature Chairman Leader P.J. Wendell.

Sources tell WNYNewsNow that District Attorney Patrick Swanson asked for more money to be funneled into the prosecutor’s office after several high-profile mistrials in 2017.



Those same sources said that Swanson’s request was denied.

“There hasn’t been anything that’s come before Audit Control,” said Wendell. “Terry Neibel, the Chairman of Public Safety, was very critical of Pat Swanson in our budget deliberations in the fall.”

Several county lawmakers we spoke to want to see more accountability from the DA’s office.



County lawmakers did cut about $50,000 from the prosecutor’s office this year, but have not taken any money away. It’s up to each department head to figure out how and where the money is spent.

“We balance our budget accordingly to  the departments and services we are asked to provide,” said Wendell. “Dave Foley (prosecutor turned judge) had relatively the same budget and was able to prosecute cases.”

Meanwhile, as the mistrials mount, lawmakers are feeling more pressure as Swanson’s office draws more scrutiny.

“Exactly how and where that pressure is being felt has yet to be determined,” Wendell said.

“This goes far beyond the county legislator. The pressure extends to other law enforcement agencies across the county, and to the officers and agents that risk their lives everyday to take criminals off of the street.”

District Attorney Patrick Swanson wasn’t available by the time of publishing. We left a message with his secretary.

 

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