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November 25. 2013 9:44PM

Rockingham County Attorney Reams says AG has asked him to resign


Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams takes notes at a Nov. 14 hearing at Merrimack County Superior in Concord. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Embattled Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams said Monday night that the state Attorney General's Office has asked him to resign from office amid a state and federal probe into his office.

"They're trying to force me to resign, so the lack of process has been stunning considering it's the Department of Justice," Reams said. "Right now, it's the Star Chamber."

Reams, who has been the elected county attorney since 1998, made his first comments about the ongoing investigation into his office in a telephone interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Reams was suspended by Attorney General Joe Foster on Nov. 6 during a conference call with the attorney general and county commissioners.

Reams said when he asked for an explanation about why he was being removed from office, "Foster said there will be plenty of time for that later."

State prosecutors have refused to divulge the details of the investigation, only saying it focuses on operational and management issues within the Rockingham County Attorney's Office.
Associate Attorney General Jane Young said last night that she could not comment about Reams' statements because it's an ongoing investigation.
Young said that the investigators from the state Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Attorney are still involved in the investigation.
"I can tell you that we have worked this case every day since that announcement has been made," Young said.

Foster said the investigation was set off by a complaint of a former employee. The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office were called in to assist in the case about a week later.

Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid and a victim witness advocate were also placed on paid administrative leave by County Commissioners as a result of the investigation. Jim Boffetti, a state prosecutor, has been appointed as interim county attorney by a superior court judge.

Reams said the allegations have been explained to him "only in the vaguest terms." He would not elaborate.

"They haven't been very specific about that," Reams said. "If people are making statements against me, what are they? Let me defend myself and tell me."

Reams said employees in his office have been barred from speaking with him, and he has been denied access to any records or witness statements related to the case.

"They're scared to death," Reams said, of the people he has contacted. "(They say) 'I've been told not to talk to anybody.'"

Reams said that he also tried to have contact with Reid, his deputy now on leave, but has not spoken to him.

"He's been told not to talk to anybody and as the number-two person in the office, he's an extremely important witness on how the office is managed and operated," Reams said.

Reams vowed Monday to continue fighting Attorney General Joe Foster's decision to temporarily remove him from office.

Today, his lawyer Michael Ramsdell plans to file a new lawsuit against the Rockingham County Commissioners for barring him from entering his office.

Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara will hear arguments on Dec. 5 in a separate court action where Reams is challenging Foster's authority to suspend him.

He said he recently made an offer to sit down with investigations soon after his suspension but received no response. Ramsdell received a call within the last four to five days by the Attorney General's Office, asking Reams to step down, according to Reams.

"It's an assertion of power that's unprecedented in this state," Reams said.

Reams said he expects the latest lawsuit to be filed in Merrimack County to avoid any conflict with local judges.

jkimble@newstote.com


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