EASTON, Pa. - Northampton County Council Thursday night approved an urgent request from District Attorney John Morganelli to create two new full-time prosecutors' positions with salary and benefits totaling more than $150,000 each.
Morganelli said no additional money will be needed to fill the positions, which will be filled by two part time assistant district attorneys, who now earn $96,678 in salary and $7,682 in benefits, or $104,360.
Morganelli said his staff has been depleted by departures and illness. One of his top prosecutors, William Blake, who oversees the county's grand jury, is undergoing treatment for cancer, he said.
After learning of Blake's medical problems Morganelli said he learned assistant District Attorney Kelly Lewis, chief prosecutor of the violent crime unit, was leaving to take a job as an assistant U.S. Attorney.
Two other prosecutors, Mark Spross and Anthony Casola, told Morganelli they were leaving, one to go into private practice, the other to join the FBI, he said.
As part of the restructuring of his office, Morganelli said he will eliminate the two part-time assistant district attorney positions that will now become full-time, at a base salary of $118,168 and $32,729 in benefits.
Council also upgraded the position and pay of law clerk, a $67,425 job, to law clerk "problem solving courts administrator," at $77,566 annually.
In another financial matter, John Brown, the county executive, said the county's pension fund has benefited from surging stock prices, with the main fund experiencing a 7.9 percent return, and another post retirement fund up 8.4 percent.
"We're off to a good start," Brown said.
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