A local defense attorney who previously spent more than a decade as a police officer is mounting a Republican primary challenge against Saratoga County's District Attorney. Our Matt Hunter reports.
SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. – Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen will likely face a Republican primary challenge from defense lawyer Gerard Amedio next spring.
“She had this perfect running the machine when she came into office; all she had to do was stay the course and just go straight," Amedio said Thursday.
Referring to Heggen's three years as district attorney as an ongoing "calamity of errors," Amedio believes the office no longer has the proud reputation it held under Heggen's former boss, Jim Murphy.
"When she first started, there was a mass exodus of assistant district attorneys who could not work with her, who she could not work with as well," Amedio said.
The 59-year-old Colonie native publicly announced his plans to challenge Heggen on Thursday. A police officer in Rensselaer before opening his law practice in Saratoga Springs 15 years ago, Amedio believes his background makes him a better fit for the DA's job.
"It is a unique perspective, because I can use that information in that district attorney’s office to properly handle cases,” he said.
On top of criticizing Heggen's management style, Amedio says Heggen has mishandled several high-profile investigations. Early this week, Murphy, who's now a judge in the county, raised the issue of unspecified errors during the grand jury process in an alleged Mechanicville murder case, which could have caused the original indictments to be thrown out.
In response, Heggen re-presented the case to a different grand jury and handed up a new superseding indictment on Thursday.
"Presentation to the grand jury is basically prosecution 101, and that was messed up," Amedio said.
Heggen declined an on-camera interview on Thursday, but her campaign manager, Nick Wilock, released a written statement.
"There’s a time for politics. But, right now, District Attorney Karen Heggen and her team are busy prosecuting dangerous criminals while Mr. Amedio is profiting by trying to keep alleged criminals out of jail,” Wilock said. “Karen Heggen has proven herself to be a capable, honest and ethical District Attorney that Saratoga County residents have come to trust."
Heggen's camp has also labeled Amedio an "opportunist" for only registering as a Republican last year.
After running unopposed during a 2014 special election, this is Heggen's first challenger for the office. She previously served as an assistant district attorney under Murphy.