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Lost grant could cost Butler its backup DA

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Butler County could lose an assistant district attorney and money for a domestic violence program because a county employee missed the deadline to apply for a $400,000 federal grant.

District Attorney Richard Goldinger on Thursday said he suspended without pay the employee responsible for the grant application, pending a personnel hearing. The county personnel office identified the employee as victim witness assistant coordinator Linda Cranmer, a county employee for about two years.

Cranmer declined to comment.

“It's devastating,” Goldinger said of the potential loss of one of seven assistant district attorneys. “The workload is going to go up, and it's going to be a trickle effect. You take one out of the mix, there will be a backup. Cases will be resolved slower, and people will be in jail longer.”

The office handles 2,500 to 2,700 cases a year, he said.

The grant would help pay for a district attorney to prosecute cases, and services for battered spouses.

The county's Salary Board, in a 4-1 vote Wednesday, agreed to pick up the salary and benefits for Assistant District Attorney Richard J. Bosco through the end of October.

Nearly half of the two-year, $400,000 grant paid for 90 percent of Bosco's salary and benefits. The county covered 10 percent.

Goldinger said the county will pay nearly $10,000 in salary and benefits this month. Each assistant district attorney position costs about $110,000 annually, he said.

The salary board will meet Oct. 24 to decide what to do about Bosco's job. He could not be reached for comment.

The county's Victim Outreach Intervention Center faces the loss of nearly $170,000 over two years. Officials there did not return phone messages.

Goldinger said that despite two recent inquiries to the Department of Justice, which handled the grant, he learned last week that the county missed an April deadline to apply for the money. He said the office would appeal and reapply next year.

In an email to county officials, Goldinger wrote that a Justice Department official told him that Cranmer initially had told the agency she was having trouble submitting the grant application electronically and mailed a paper copy to the wrong address.

Goldinger said Cranmer told him that she thought she submitted the application on time.

“What is even more troubling to me is that this was not truthfully presented to me by my employee, either at that time or now,” he wrote in the email.

In 2010, the county lost a $375,000 state grant that covered costs of domestic violence programs and investigations because of a paperwork error.

Goldinger said the circumstances were different and involved different employees. He did not say how his office could keep this from happening again.

“My head's spinning right now,” Goldinger said. “I have some ideas, but I'm frankly not ready to comment. It would all be speculation.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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