EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 30, 2014

County attorney returns to work today

Judge imposes restrictions on Reams

BRENTWOOD — Suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said he’s looking forward to returning to his office this morning, nearly six months after he was barred from entering.

“I’m happy to be back doing the job I was elected to do,” Reams said yesterday afternoon.

The 15-year county attorney’s comments came shortly after Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara ordered that Reams be allowed to return to his post.

Reams, 66, was suspended with pay by county commissioners Nov. 6 amid allegations he sexually harassed female employees, mishandled funds and mismanaged the office.

Reams has steadfastly denied the allegations and has been waging a legal battle to go back to work.

Yesterday, he said, several of his employees called to congratulate him after being informed of the judge’s decision’s about 2 p.m.

“A number of employees called and said, ‘Welcome back,”’ he said.

Reams said he doesn’t expect any awkward moments, just business as usual, when he returns to his office at the Rockingham Superior Courthouse.

He said one of his first tasks upon his return will be to meet with employees and tell them it’s time to move forward.

“They need to get back to work and ignore this,” he said. “They have a job to do.”

But Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti, appointed interim county attorney in his absence, said yesterday that employees in the office are worried about Reams’ return.

“I met with my staff this afternoon to brief them them on the order and the limits of what he can and cannot do,” Boffetti said. “It’s obviously stressful. Some people are very concerned about what this means.”

McNamara’s three-page order yesterday said if Reams wants to discipline or fire an assistant county attorney, he must seek approval from the Attorney General’s Office. Reams also cannot hire an assistant county attorney without approval.

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