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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reams says he retired, not resigned

By Doug Ireland
 The Eagle Tribune Wed Jun 18, 2014, 09:03 AM EDT
BRENTWOOD — Rockingham County Attorney James Reams agreed yesterday to step down, appointing Patricia Conway as deputy county attorney until a replacement is named.
It marked the end of Reams’ tumultuous 15-year career as the county’s top lawyer.
The three-member county commission announced yesterday afternoon it reached a settlement with Reams that he resign, paying the remainder of his $85,000-a-year salary through Jan. 1. That comes to about $42,000, Commissioner Kevin Coyle said.
But Reams, 66, disputed the commission’s account, saying he agreed to retire and that it was “erroneous” to say he resigned.
“It’s a crock,” he said. “I did not resign, I’m retiring. ... I’m retiring because they made it worth my while.”
Attorney General Joseph Foster confirmed Reams is retiring and said his office will no longer pursue the county attorney’s removal from office. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Aug. 4 in Merrimack Superior Court in Concord, but will be canceled.
Before leaving office, Reams notified the state’s legislative delegation that Conway would oversee the office in the interim.
Conway is an assistant county attorney and one of five people running to replace Reams in the September primary after he decided not to seek re-election.
The County Commission voted, 2-1, to accept the agreement, with Coyle and Thomas Tombarello in favor and Chairwoman Katharin Pratt in opposition.
The 46 members of the county’s legislative delegation must now decide if they want to replace Reams and who that person would be, commissioners said. Delegation Chairman Norman Major, R-Plaistow, said a meeting would be scheduled, but he didn’t know when.
The Attorney General’s Office has offered to have one of its attorneys run the office in the interim, Foster said.
Reams was suspended by commissioners in November and his prosecutorial authority stripped by Foster amid allegations he mismanaged county money and sexually harassed female employees.
The Attorney General’s Office accused Reams of having inappropriate physical contact with the employees, telling women not to get pregnant and retaliating against those who did. He earned the nickname “Creepy Jim.”
He also would invite employees to bring their bathing suits to his home for drinks and so they could use his hot tub, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Reams denied the allegations and said he never touched anyone in his office.
Yesterday, Foster praised the employees in Reams’ office who came forward with complaints about their boss.
“I commend the women who brought these complaints forward,” he said. “It sends an important message that gender discrimination won’t be tolerated.”
Reams was reinstated by Merrimack Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara in April after he and his attorney, Michael Ramsdell, claimed his suspension was unlawful.
Reams said at about 5 p.m. yesterday he had just cleaned out his office and said farewell to his employees.
“Some of them are unhappy I’m leaving and others said they understand why I’m leaving,” he said.
Reams and Ramsdell continued to insist the county attorney was innocent of the allegations.
Reams said he spent more than $80,000 in legal fees defending himself and planned to retire later this year anyway.
“At some point, you have to stop,” he said.
Reams said the County Commission constantly interfered with his running of the office, not allowing him to hire or post positions.
“They were constantly doing illegal things,” he said. “There is no petty thing they wouldn’t do.”
Reams said he’s deciding whether to continue his legal career or spend more time working on his house on Lake Winnipesaukee.
“I have had some job offers,” he said. “But I’ve always said I would be happy pumping gas at a marina.”
Reams disputed commissioners’ allegations that he had a rocky return to office following his suspension.
“There hasn’t been issue with any employee since I’ve been back,” he said.
Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti oversaw the office in Reams’ absence, and is a likely candidate to replace him if the delegation does not choose to appoint a replacement, Foster said.
The replacement must reside in the county, Foster said. Since Reams’ return, Senior Assistant Attorney General Janice Rundles has overseen the office
Commissioners said the problems with Reams’ return came to a head recently when the Attorney General’s Office brought new allegations against him. Reams was accused of removing the name of a former Salem police officer, Eric Lamb, from the state’s Laurie List.
Lamb is Conway’s husband.
The Laurie List includes the names of law enforcement officers with credibility concerns that could jeopardize court cases if they are asked to testify.
Pratt and Coyle said Reams offered to resign after the Laurie List allegations came to light earlier this spring. The two sides had been negotiating for the last two weeks before reaching an agreement yesterday morning.
Reams said he never offered to resign and that it was the commissioners who asked him to step down.
Coyle and Tombarello said the commission accepted the offer because they thought Reams had been too much of a distraction.
“Since he’s been back, we’ve had more issues,” Coyle said. “He really hasn’t been an effective leader since he’s been back.”
Coyle cited the Laurie List issue. He also said there continue to be factions in the approximately 40-employee office, with those who supported Reams and those who did not.
Tombarello agreed.
“Since Jim has been back, the situation hasn’t gotten any better,” Tombarello said. “We were told he wasn’t there to perform his job. I just felt there were a lot of problems in that office.”
Pratt said she voted against accepting the agreement because she believed the matter should have gone to court and that settling the issue would send the wrong message.
“The woman who filed complaints deserve their day in court, as does Jim,” she said.
Some of the county attorney candidates issued statements yesterday, including Democrat Joseph Plaia and Republicans Jason Grosky and Michael DiCroce.
They are running along with Conway and Michael Zaino. Both are Republicans.
“As county attorney, I will restore credibility, honesty and fairness to the office to ensure justice is served for all,” Grosky said.
DiCroce said “it’s time for a fresh start and an end to questionable ethics.”
Plaia said Reams made the proper choice to step down and he would provide new leadership if elected.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Fired and claimed retired. Resigned and claimed retired.

There was another item in the news about Reams this week.

From the UnionLeader

DOVER – Judge Tina Nadeau this week denied a Department of Correction request for home confinement or work release for former Dover School Board chairman Nick Skaltsis, who pleaded guilty last year to defrauding friends and neighbors of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A hearing was held Monday after the department requested administrative home confinement for Skaltsis, who was sentenced in July 2013 to serve at least 18 months in prison and pay nearly $278,000 in restitution after he was convicted of scamming a dozen victims.

Skaltsis had pleaded guilty to three counts of theft by deception and one count of theft by misappropriation of property.

Judge Nadeau of Strafford County Superior Court, wrote in her decision, issued Wednesday, that Monday’s hearing addressed both the department’s request for home confinement and a previous approval for Skaltsis’ participation in a work-release program.

Nadeau denied both in her Wednesday decision.

Nadeau wrote that Skaltsis should serve “nothing less” than his original sentence.

She wrote that the work-release approval had been “unfortunately” signed by the county attorney’s office, although the Attorney General’s Office was the prosecuting entity in the case.

Skaltsis was originally charged with 15 counts of theft by deception and four counts of theft by misappropriation of property for falsely accepting about $327,500 in loans from 13 area residents to rehabilitate distressed real estate properties for resale.

Skaltsis never used the money to buy, renovate or sell any properties, and instead used it for his own benefit, according to Assistant Attorney General Robert Adams.

He was chairman of Dover’s school board in 2002.

Nadeau wrote that while the court “generally supports the Department of Corrections’ efforts to enhance rehabilitation” through programs such as home confinement, such a program wouldn’t be appropriate for Skaltsis, whom she said doesn’t need assistance finding employment or housing.

“This is a defendant who needs to serve his minimum sentence, which the court originally was reluctant to accept in light of its leniency, as retribution for his outrageous conduct,” Nadeau wrote. “He victimized at least 11 separate victims by conning them into turning over their retirement funds with a promise of sizable returns on their investments. Instead of delivering on his promises, he used deceit and manipulation to permanently deprive them of their life savings.”

Anonymous said...

"She wrote that the work-release approval had been “unfortunately” signed by the county attorney’s office, although the Attorney General’s Office was the prosecuting entity in the case."


Anonymous said...

Didn't the sexual harasser Phil Consentino try to say he was retiring after he was fired for his crime(s)? Looks like his buddy Reams learned from Conman how to get off.

Now conman is running around with "Ret Cop" on his license plate. Hey sexual harasser Phil this more of your propaganda or wasn't FIRED COP available at the registry? The lying bastard won't even tell the truth when the truth would be better.

Wants to get off the next time he is stopped for speeding.

How come some of his die hard supporters still call him chief, when he was fired? Guess it wasn't their daughter he was trying to get satisfaction from.

Anonymous said...

another scandal at reams former office. one of the prosecuters got arrested for drug possession, oxycodone. Zachary Cross arested in Manchester the same day reams resigns, leaves, retires, whatever!

Anonymous said...

A Shelby County blogger has been freed, at least temporarily, after being held in jail five months for refusing to remove comments on his blog that a judge had ruled were defamatory against the son of former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley

Anonymous said...

Yes, the crooked judge. Let's see how far this gets.

Why don't you find a new topic to annoy us - besides cats.

How about blogging about how boring your life is that you have nothing to say and nothing to do? Ask for advice about how to improve your sad situation and contibute to society in a meaningful way. Maybe you'll be inspired.