DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Woes continue for the office

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson is struggling, to say the least.

During the last 13 months, in major county cases, his office has offered plea deals in two homicide cases while also losing a murder case involving Barbara J. Redeye, who was found innocent in the death of her half-brother in Jamestown. He also had a pair of mistrials with the first Justin Haffa go-round and a kidnapping case involving Samuel Saeli.

Haffa’s most recent trial, which he was found innocent Wednesday in the attempted murder of a sheriff’s deputy, also indicated some sloppiness that is occurring in the office of the county’s chief law enforcement officer. Adding to the disappointment is a consultant contracted by the office on taxpayer dollars — Prosecutor Christopher Belling — likely helped in the mess that led to the not guilty verdict.

Belling and Swanson could not get their story straight regarding a medical appointment for deputy Sara Cunningham, who was involved in the September 2016 incident in Pomfret on Route 60. It led to an embarrassing admonishment by County Court Judge David Foley, Swanson’s predecessor, on Feb. 2.

“When asked whether you had knowledge of the conversation between Cunningham and Swanson, you (Belling) denied it,” Foley said. “(Swanson) indicates … that (he) didn’t notify you the day before when she refreshed his recollections.”

At that time, Swanson sat quietly, never making eye contact with Foley or making an attempt to explain his actions.

On looks alone, there seems to be desperation in the office. During the 2016 election, opponents of Swanson stood firm in their belief that he lacked courtroom experience.

After four trials — and no wins for the office — that’s tough to dispute.

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