EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 18, 2014

Suspended Rockingham County employees resign

Reid cleared of any criminal wrongdoing

By Doug Ireland

---- — BRENTWOOD — Two longtime employees of the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office have resigned amid an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.

Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid, second in command after suspended County Attorney James Reams, submitted his resignation yesterday afternoon, according to Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards.

In a brief statement, Edwards said Reid was exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.

“Mr. Reid was not the target of a criminal investigation and our investigation has not revealed any evidence that he engaged in any criminal conduct,” Edwards said. “Mr. Reid has cooperated during our investigation, and we anticipate he will continue to cooperate with our ongoing investigation.”

Reid’s departure from the office after 15 years comes only a day after Rockingham County commissioners accepted the resignation of victim witness advocate Tara Longo.

Longo also stepped down from her position after 15 years amid concerns about her credibility. Reid, Longo and Reams were placed on administrative leave by county commissioners in November, following allegations of “management and operational issues” within the office.

Attorney General Joseph Foster also revoked Reams’ authority as a prosecutor. Allegations of sexual harassment by Reams against female employees and the improper diversion of money in the office later surfaced.

Reams claims he is innocent. He is fighting for reinstatement and trying to salvage his reputation as the county’s top prosecutor.

A Merrimack County Superior Court judge was to hear Reams’ reinstatement request Tuesday. But Edwards said yesterday the state and Reams’ attorney, Michael Ramsdell, have asked the hearing to be rescheduled while the criminal investigation continues.

Edwards refrained from speaking further about Reid.

But Brian Quirk, Reid’s attorney, issued a statement on behalf of his client.

“The manner in which the investigation has been handled has taken a significant toll on my family,” Reid said. “I also recognize that a continued suspension with pay is unfair to the taxpayers of Rockingham County. Therefore, I have resigned effective today.”

Quirk emphasized that the Attorney General’s Office cleared Reid of misconduct.

“In light of the change in leadership due to the suspension of County Attorney Reams, Attorney Reid has decided to move on,” Quirk said.

Quirk also released statements from Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing, Plaistow police Chief Steve Savage and Register of Deeds Cathy Stacey, all praising Reid for his work.

“Throughout my years as sheriff, Tom has always been a tremendous asset to this department,” Downing said. “We relied on him. He’s hard to replace.”

Edwards would not comment on Longo nor any credibility issues she may face.

Randy Hawkes, executive director of the New Hampshire Public Defenders Program, said the Attorney General’s Office had asked him to post a notice to defense attorneys that there may be credibility issues in cases in which Longo was involved.

That’s because Longo submitted an inaccurate resume when applying for the job in 1997, he said. Interim County Attorney James Boffetti said some cases may have to be retried if there are credibility concerns. That could include the trial of Harold Baird in Danville, Boffetti said.

Baird is serving a 40- to 80-year prison term following an aggravated felonious sexual assault conviction in 2006.

County Commissioner Kevin Coyle said the commission met with representatives from the Attorney General’s Office Thursday night and voted to accept Longo’s resignation. He said the commission would likely accept Reid’s resignation when it meets Tuesday.

“I’m just hoping to start putting this behind us,” Coyle said.

Boffetti, asked to fill in for Reams upon his suspension, said he began seeking a permanent replacement for Longo on Thursday. A retired employee has been filling in for Longo on a part-time basis, he said.

Boffetti could not be reached for comment on Reid’s resignation late yesterday afternoon.

Reid earned $96,723 a year and Longo received $57,962 a year, according to the commissioners office.

Coyle said both are entitled to receive “earned pay” — unused vacation and sick time. Reid is expected to receive $38,130, while Longo would get $9,447, according to the commissioners’ office.