Lawrence County's District Attorney John Bongivengo assumed his duties Jan. 3 and already has his office staff in order.

With that order comes a few personnel changes, some that are contingent on the county salary board's approval.

The changes include two new faces. Jeanna Bashara will become Bongivengo's case manager. Kathleen Fee-Baird has been named as a full-time assistant district attorney.

Four staff members who worked under former District Attorney Matthew T. Mangino have been terminated.

They are assistant district attorneys Robert T. Barletta and Birgitta Tolvanen, clerical worker Vicky Malley and detective Richard Presnar.

Calling Barletta's termination "a budgetary decision," Bongivengo noted he had been the county's highest-paid assistant district attorney at $46,592 last year. He became a part-time assistant district attorney in February 1992 and had held the full-time post for 10 years.

Bongivengo hired Fee-Baird to replace Barletta. She will be paid $44,000, which includes a 4 percent increase the county intends to grant all non-union employees this year, Bongivengo said.

Barletta said Jan. 3 he plans to work in private practice.

Tolvanen's employment ended when a grant that had funded her position ran out, Bongivengo said.

The county has one full-time detective position that was occupied by Presnar. Wayne Disque, who was working as a detective in a grant-funded position, will occupy that spot.

Fee-Baird is one of three full-time assistant district attorneys who will complement Bongivengo's staff. She will primarily handle sexual assault cases.

Thomas Minett will continue on part-time status, handling homicide cases.

The other assistant district attorneys he has retained are: Diane Shaffer, who is his first assistant, handling drug cases and Luann Parkonen, who will handle domestic violence and juvenile cases.

The assistant district attorney staff size has diminished from last year, when Mangino employed six full-timers. They included Thomas Bashara, James Papa and Tolvanen, whose positions ended at various times during 2005 when grant funds expired.

"We're looking at some other grant programs," Bongivengo said, noting he intends to apply through the U.S. Department of Justice and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program for funding to add to his staff.

Bashara, as Bongivengo's case manager, will moving into his offices from the office of District Judge Melissa Amodie. Her new position has yet to be created by the Lawrence County Salary Board, which also will set the pay.

Instead, a full-time detective position will be eliminated. It has been vacant since Sean Carna accepted a position at the jail last year, Bongivengo said.

As an elected row officer, Bongivengo will have a vote on the salary board.

"I think the office needs a contact person in addition to the DA," Bongivengo said, regarding the case manager position.

He said he intends to spend time in court prosecuting cases.

Bongivengo also is eliminating Malley's clerical position. Her pay, about $22,000 plus benefits, will be moved elsewhere in the budget, he said, and some of it could be used to fund another position.

Bongivengo is retaining full-time clerical workers Roxanne Exposito, Holly Italia and Jennifer Trott, who is on pregnancy leave.

Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler said Jan. 4 the salary board will meet Jan. 5 for a public work session.

The annual salary board meeting will be Jan. 10, following the commissioners regular 10 a.m. meeting.



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