LITTLE VALLEY – A judge’s dismissal of a drug case because prosecutors waited too long to file charges fueled the latest sparks between Cattaraugus County District Attorney Lori Reimann and Public Defender Mark Williams, who are competing for the DA’s office in the November elections.
County Judge Ronald Ploetz recently dismissed a 2010 indictment charging Alecia Hafner, 46, of no known address, with two counts of drug possession and two counts of alleged drug dealing in the northern part of the county. According to Ploetz’s decision, the case was dismissed because prosecutors failed to bring it in a timely manner.
According to the decision, Hafner was indicted and had left the state in 2010. She was located in Florida, but when the U.S. Marshal’s Service contacted Reimann, she said she would not extradite from Florida. According to police quoted in the judge’s decision, Reimann said her office would extradite only from adjoining states because of the costs.
According to the decision, that statement was made in February 2012, when extradition could have been accomplished, according to Williams.
“At that point the speedy-trial clock started to run and in six months the time to prosecute the defendant expired,” Williams said in a release. “About eleven months after Reimann chose not to extradite her, the woman was arrested in Pennsylvania when she had car troubles and a records check revealed the outstanding warrant for her arrest. This time Reimann decided to extradite her, but the time to legally prosecute the defendant had expired.”
According to law, the District Attorney’s Office has a six-month window to bring a case from indictment to court. In this particular case, according to the judge’s decision, the clock started ticking in February of 2012, when Reimann declined to extradite Hafner from Florida.
According to budgetary records, and despite a claim by Reimann that there was not enough money in her budget to extradite Hafner from Florida, she still had sufficient funds in 2012, according to Williams.
Reimann disputed that.
“At the time, I had no money left in the budget for an extradition from Florida,” she said. “That was why I had decided to only extradite from adjoining states. At that time, the person in question did not know about the charges against her and I didn’t know that she was running from them.
“Had this been a violent crime I would have extradited,” she continued. “We would have come up with the money.”
Williams saw things differently.
“She had almost her entire budget for 2012 available to her at that time. She had $3,500 budgeted for extraditions in 2012,” Williams said in his release.