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Seneca D.A. Swinehart to seek 3rd term

Seneca County District Attorney Richard Swinehart today announced that he is a candidate for re-election as the county’s chief law enforcement officer.“I have worked hard to uphold the law for all the citizens of Seneca County, whether it be in grand jury rooms or at a Cayuga Indian store violating sales tax regulations,” said Swinehart.The incumbent district attorney is especially proud of being the first law enforcement officer to tackle the controversial sales tax issue in regard to sales in Indian stores.“The law is the law,” Swinehart said. “The Cayuga Indian store was in violation of the law and it was our duty to move in and see that the law is upheld.”Swinehart talked about the absolute need for integrity in the district attorney’s office as he announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for a third term as district attorney. “Seneca County’s commitment to law enforcement and upholding the law has been tested in recent years,” Swinehart said, “and I am proud that the DA’s office has come through it in good shape.”“At the conclusion of the recent special Grand Jury, the special prosecutor held a press conference. He said eight Grand Jury reports had been issued. One dealt with recommendations for changes to operations of the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department. The other seven reports involved certain members of county government. “All seven reports were determined by various members of the Judiciary, including the Supreme Court of the State of NY Appellate Division, Fourth Department, to remain forever sealed,” Swinehart explained. “The Judges unanimously determined based on the law that the instructions of the special prosecutor concerning the public official’s duties were vague and inadequate, and thus the grand jury was improperly ‘permitted to substitute its judgment for that of the public official’ without any indication that the public official failed to act in accordance with the prescribed duties of the position .““Despite some attempts to spread rumor, innuendo and speculation, members of Seneca County government have continuously performed their duties to benefit the citizens of Seneca County. This has been especially true of the members of the district attorney’s office.”“I am grateful to the citizens of Seneca County for their confidence in me for eight years,” said Swinehart, “and I pledge to them that I will continue to do everything I can to make our county a safer and better place to live and work.”Swinehart pointed to a number of accomplishments during his two terms as DA, including: – Creating a policy and procedures manual for the DA’s office;- Encouraging career prosecutors;- Having no cases overturned on appeal;- Never having to retry a case;- No mistrials;- Number 3 in New York State for DWI convictions;- Outstanding conviction rate;- Appointed Special Prosecutor by NYS Supreme Court in Wayne County and Cayuga County;- Reviewing and clearing open criminal cases from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s; and – Creating animal cruelty protocols for law enforcement handling of complaints concerning animals.Swinehart was first elected district attorney in 2002 and within a year was prosecuting the Eric Parsons case. Parsons was accused of killing his wife and four children and was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life.“All of our cases are important, but some are especially noteworthy,” Swinehart commented, citing the following convictions by trial and by guilty plea:- Sodomy and sexual abuse against a child in 2002, sentenced to 12 years;- Arson and first degree assault involving domestic violence, sentenced to 29 years;- Second degree manslaughter against a two-year-old child, sentenced to 4-12 years;- Drug dealer in 2006, sentenced to 12 years;- Domestic violence assault in 2008, sentenced to 15 years to life as a persistent offender;- Criminal sexual act against children in 2008, sentenced to 10 years;- Criminally negligent homicide in 2009, sentenced to 1-3 years; and- Cemetery desecration, sentenced to 1-3 years plus restitution to the Veterans Agency.Swinehart also noted that besides bringing criminals to justice, administration of the district attorney’s office is very important. Through sound management, he has been able to save the county significant amounts of money during his eight years, including:- $135,666.40 returned to the county that was not used in the budgets;- $175,838.73 reimbursed by New York State to Seneca County for prosecution of prison cases;- $286,956.62 reimbursed for Aid to Prosecution (ATP); and- $329,067.50 reimbursed for State Aid to Localities.The two-term district attorney also pointed out that “many cases in misdemeanor and felony drug treatment courts have resulted in participants acquiring and maintaining sobriety while furthering their education and/or finding employment. This is good for Seneca County communities,” he noted.Swinehart, who lives in Waterloo with his wife, Lori, a reading teacher in the Seneca Falls School District, has four children. Son Michael, 20, recently returned from Iraq and is serving in the U.S. Army; Daughter Mackenzie, 12, is a sixth grader at Waterloo; Stepson Christopher Zona is the assistant athletic director at Winston-Salem State University; and Stepson Josh Zona is a member of Construction and General Laborer’s Union Local 633 of Syracuse.Helping the community has always been foremost on Swinehart’s mind and he has been active in many activities, including the Red Cross, the Seneca Falls Historical Society, the Children and Youth Task Force of Seneca County, the Criminal Justice Advisory Board of Seneca County, the New York State Farm Bureau, the Seneca Falls Rotary Club where he is a Paul Harris Fellow, the SMS Mutual Aid Society, the United Way, the Johnson Home for Ladies, the Creative Choices Daycare Center, the Domestic Violence Multi-Disciplinary Coordinating Council,, the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Festival, the American Heart Association and the Waterloo Community Basketball Program.Swinehart was active in the Republican Party before being elected district attorney. He served as chair of the Waterloo Town Republican Committee, vice chair of the County GOP Committee and for 10 years helped organize the party’s annual golf tournament.Prior to becoming DA, Swinehart was a partner with the law firm of Midey and Swinehart of Seneca Falls. Professionally, he is a member of the New York State District Attorney’s Association, the New York State Bar Association and the Seneca County Bar Association.He is a graduate of Mynderse Academy and received his law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

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