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Rain ordered to halt probe; judge to consider special DA

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CANTON — A judge has ordered St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain to cease any grand jury proceeding and investigation into the county for alleged unlawful use of forfeiture funds and malfeasance in the loss of grant money.

The order to show cause, issued Tuesday by Judge Vito C. Caruso, the administrative judge for the Fourth Judicial District, gives Ms. Rain until July 24 to explain why she should not be disqualified in her probe of the county and why a special district attorney should not be appointed.

Calls to Ms. Rain were not returned Tuesday night.

Ms. Rain informed County Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire on June 30 of her intent to convene a grand jury to consider whether any laws were broken when the county this spring failed to reapply for a grant worth a half-million dollars to fund two victim advocate positions.

Additionally, she has questioned use of crime forfeiture funds to purchase equipment for the county Board of Legislators chambers.

She has issued subpoenas to county officials including St. Hilaire and County Attorney Michael C. Crowe. Mr. Crowe has requested the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Judge Caruso wrote that Ms. Rain “is hereby stayed from taking any action in furtherance of any grand jury proceeding,” and “from any action in furtherance of an investigation of misconduct, nonfeasance and neglect in public office concerning the failure to timely file a Victims Service Grant Application pending the return of this Order to Show Cause and the determination of the motion.”

St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards has recused himself.

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