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Local News

November 29, 2012

Teacher case gets special prosecutor

(Continued)

Breen was not available Wednesday afternoon to comment on the Benton case.

Earlier in the day, he said he had been told about his appointment to prosecute Fletcher but hadn’t been officially notified. As a result, he said, he could not comment on the case.

“I have no authority to act on anything,” he said.

A special prosecutor usually is named when a district attorney perceives a conflict of interest in pursuing a case, although it remained unclear why Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup asked for one.

He declined Wednesday to elaborate.

The interim superintendent of the Walton Central School District also declined to comment when asked whether the case had prompted district officials to examine how they evaluate teachers and procedures to head off such cases.

“It’s a police matter,” said George F. Mack, the interim schools chief.

Breen has been called into service as a special prosecutor in Delaware County at least three times in the past, the most recent in a case last year in which the Sidney Town Attorney Joseph Ermeti was charged with assault.

He also prosecuted Katherine Covell, who was indicted in 2009 on charges of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and driving with a blood-alcohol content above .08 percent after a fatal crash Nov. 29, 2008, on Route 10 in Walton. Covell eventually pleaded guilty to the first charge and was sentenced to four months in jail and five years’ probation.

In the third case, he prosecuted a Franklin lawyer accused of filing a false petition in an adoption case. She eventually was barred from practicing law for four years.

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