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Rain brings accountability tour to Massena

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MASSENA - When Mary Rain wanted to bring her accountability tour to Massena, she said it didn’t take her long to figure out where she would speak to supporters.

“I picked 16 Haskell Street because this is ground zero for the drug empire in Massena,” she said, referring to the former home of Patrick R. Lloyd, the former New York City man under federal indictment for being part of an operation that brought cocaine and heroin from the city to sell on the streets of Massena.

She used the home - no longer tied to the drug trade - as a backdrop as she discussed her plan to improve the district attorney’s office in front of a small group of supporters that included Massena Republican Party Chair Charlie Romigh and Mayor James F. Hidy.

While Mr. Lloyd may now be behind bars, Ms. Rain said that’s not thanks to the incumbent prosecutor, Nicole Duve.

“My opponent did very little,” Ms. Rain said. “The chief of police (Timmy J. Currier) wrote a letter to the editor pleading for change, and to take the drugs off the streets.”

Ms. Rain then said when the district attorney in Franklin County heard of a similar situation there, he jumped to action and “immediately helped them out.”

“My opponent did very little,” she said. “My opponents response was, ‘I don’t think things are going to get any better.’ With my opponent in office, I agree.”

Ms. Rain then outlined her three-step plan to improve the district’s attorney’s office, reiterating she would fast track felony cases, improve technology in the district attorney’s office and improve interagency communication.

While Mr. Lloyd recently pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping charges and is facing an eight-year sentence in state prison, Ms. Rain said that will be superseded by the federal charges currently pending against him - charges that Ms. Rain said came as a result of Ms. Duve’s lack of action.

“The fact is the federal government had to come in and do her job,” Ms. Rain said.

Mr. Lloyd is facing a minimum prison term of 10 years if convicted on those charges.

Ms. Rain said he could have gotten up to 15 years on the attempted kidnapping charges and even quoted Mr. Lloyd’s attorney as saying “anything less than 10 years was a victory for him.”

In response, Ms. Duve said that Lloyd and Miranda Green, his codefendant in the case, pleaded guilty to the “most serious charge on the indictment.”

“The sentence that was imposed was imposed with the full knowledge of the victim and the victim’s family, as well as the Massena police department,” she said.

As for the length of time it took for Mr. Lloyd to be held in jail without bail, Ms. Duve said that bail isn’t meant as a punishment.

Referring to his initial arrest on the unlawful imprisonment and third-degree assault charges, Ms. Duve said, “That was the first time Patrick Lloyd had been arrested in St. Lawrence County. He wasn’t necessarily known in my office. We didn’t have any files on him.”

Mr. Duve then said that the events that would unfold in Massena over the next several weeks that included Green and Mr. Lloyd being rearrested “gave people the opportunity to stir the pot. It made people more scared than they needed to be,” she said.

Ms. Rain was also asked about another high profile case this year, the case pending against Bobbie Jo Zeller, who allegedly scammed a priest and members of his parish out of more than $300,000.

St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards recently dismissed three forgery charges against Zeller following a review of the grand jury presentment.

Ms. Duve pointed out that Zeller was still facing several charges and that the dismissed count could be reintroduced.

But Ms. Rain suggested the ruling underscored the problems in Ms. Duve’s office.“Grand jury is 100 percent to the district attorney’s control. Having three charges dropped is a lot,” Ms. Rain said. “If you look at other district attorney’s offices, you’ll see that having charges dismissed in grand jury is a rarity. In this office it is not.”

Ms. Duve said grand jury dismissals are more common across the regions than Ms. Rain is leading her supporters to believe and aren’t happening in St. Lawrence County any more often than they are anywhere else.

“When you look at the thousands of thousands of cases that come across my office on a yearly basis that is a fraction of a percent,” she said.

Ms. Rain also said should she be elected she wouldn’t be in such a rush to plea bargain felony cases.

“If I have a solid case, there’s not going to be a plea bargain,” she said. “You’ll plea to the top count.”

Ms. Duve said that plea bargains are an important part of the criminal justice system, noting avoiding them is impossible.

“It would crumble the criminal justice system. Not all cases are alike, not all defendants are similarly situated, not all evidence and witnesses are always reliable and strong, and you have to make an assessment on each case,” she said.

“Making such a blanket statement ignores the solemn duty of any district attorney to see that justice is reached, because the job is just as much about protecting the defendant’s rights and preventing an innocent person from being wrongly convicted or accused, it is about protecting victims and holding people accountable. This job isn’t about ruling with an iron fist, it’s about being fair.”

At the close of Ms. Rain’s presentation, Mr. Hidy then offered her his endorsement, noting his first interactions with Ms. Duve resulted in her blaming the village police department for failing to provide her office with necessary to move forward with the prosecution of a rape case with a 14-year-old victim.

“His (Mr. Currier’s) agency did indeed present the paperwork,” he said. “The paperwork was mistakenly misplaced in her office,” Mr. Hidy charged.

“The public safety of not only Massena, but the entire county, is not a Republican or Democrat issue,” the mayor said, charging Ms. Duve’s actions as district attorney have jeopardized the safety of everyone.

“I’m hoping with Mary running it is giving people a better choice.”

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