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The St. Lawrence County courthouse and legislative building.
The St. Lawrence County courthouse and legislative building.

High-level legal feud escalates in St. Lawrence County

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A legal feud between two prominent St. Lawrence County officials continues to escalate.

Days after being served a subpoena to deliver 10 years of financial records to a grand jury, county Administrator Karen St. Hilaire asked a stay of any grand jury action.

And she filed complaints with the state Attorney General's office against District Attorney Mary Rain.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

This blizzard of legal action started last week when Rain said she would call St. Hilaire to appear before a grand jury over two issues. The first was why the probation department failed to apply for a once-routine $500,000 grant to fund two victims advocates for 5 years.

But St. Hilaire says that grant is also the responsibility of the DA’s office. So Wednesday she asked the state Attorney General’s Public Integrity Office to investigate the issue. And she called for an independent special prosecutor to get involved, "because I did not feel that Ms. Rain could conduct a fair and impartial investigation when she and her office had been part of this whole question of the grants for her office," says St. Hilaire.

St. Hilaire says she questions whether Rain is using the justice system for "personal reasons", citing Rain's departure from her position of county Public Defender several years ago, and asked a state judicial committee on professional standards to weigh in  on the matter.

The second issue Rain raised last week is whether St. Hilaire and the former DA, Nicole Duve,  misapplied $12,000 to buy a microphone system for the county legislative chambers. Rain says that money should only have been used for law enforcement purposes.

"Misappropriation of funds from one account is improper," Rain says. "We have all the time court clerks that misappropriate funds, town supervisors that misappropriate funds. It makes it no different that it’s a county administration misappropriating funds. So that needs to be investigated."

St. Hilaire says the appropriation is valid because the legislative chambers are also used regularly as a court or grand jury room.

And this second issue appears to be the subject of the subpoenas served St. Hilaire and other county officials Monday. They ask for 10 years of e-mails and financial records related to the pot of money in question.

The date for the grand jury hearing is scheduled for July 29th. But St. Hilaire is seeking a stay of the entire matter until a special prosecutor is appointed.

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