Two Republican candidates for Saratoga County District Attorney are squaring off in the September 13th primary election. With a week left in the campaign, the challenger is painting the sitting DA as neglectful.
Incumbent Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen is facing a challenge from Gerard Amedio, a local defense attorney.
Heggen is running for a second term after taking the reins from former district attorney and current Saratoga County Court Justice Jim Murphy III in 2014. She has worked in the office for 25 years.
Amedio, who practices in Saratoga Springs, has also had a career as a Rensselaer police officer – two jobs that he says would benefit him as district attorney.
“Because while I was a police officer I was able to see how people committed crimes. And now, as a criminal defense attorney, I can actually see why people commit crimes, so it’s very helpful. It’s a very useful tool,” said Amedio.
Amedio also touts a good rapport with the law enforcement community, where he says he has many friends and colleagues.
Amedio, who has not worked as a prosecutor, faces an uphill battle against Heggen, who has received unanimous support from the county’s GOP committees.
On Thursday, Amedio held a press conference in his Broadway office with two men who were crime victims. The men levied complaints against Heggen, whom Amedio said mishandled their cases.
“I can’t imagine what it is to go through a case and being a crime victim, the stress and the emotions that you run through,” said Amedio. “ And also not having the support from the District Attorney’s office is very disconcerting.”
One man, Michael Arpey, described an episode where he was assaulted after a Christmas party in Saratoga Springs, receiving two black eyes and a broken nose. His attacker was ultimately charged with a violation and Arpey was awarded $500 for medical expenses, which he claimed was inadequate. He said he still owes around $900 to Glens Falls Hospital.
“Mr. Arpey has already lost the opportunity to recover his restitution from the court system through the DA’s office because they didn’t accept his input,” said Amedio.
Another man, Robert Georgia, a former parole officer, said he was nearly struck by a vehicle driven by a neighbor. An arrest was made and an order of protection was instituted, but the man says the case has dragged on too long.
Heggen dismissed the criticisms. Though she would not comment on Mr. Georgia’s case, which is still pending, she said her office has been in contact with Mr. Arpey several times.
Heggen said the county employs three crime victim specialists in her office to assist thousands of crime victims.
“We work tirelessly with victims of crime to keep them in the loop, to have them feel that they are a participant and a part of a process that ultimately reaches a resolution that balances the interest of justice, which is what our job is to do each and every day,” said Heggen.
Heggen said her primary reason for running for re-election is to keep Saratoga County “the way it is,” mentioning the county’s low crime rate and high quality of life.
“The second reason is that I know the job, I know what it takes to oversee an office of 22 attorneys. I know what it means to have to start with a case to make it all the way through. I’ve done that. I’ve done it for many, many years,” said Heggen. “But most importantly, the reason I want to do this job, is that the team of men and women that work as Assistant District Attorneys and support the Assistant District Attorneys in our office do a phenomenal job.”
There are no Democratic challengers running for Saratoga County District Attorney.