3 Dems eye Aroostook district attorney post

Posted June 04, 2010, at 12:58 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — Three Aroostook County assistant district attorneys, all Democrats, are vying for the position of Aroostook County district attorney during the June 8 primary.

Since there is no Republican candidate seeking the seat, it is likely that the candidate who wins the most votes during the primary will win the position by being the lone candidate on the ballot in November.

Current Aroostook County District Attorney Neale Adams has held the seat since 1989. Adams is serving his fifth term, which expires at the end of December. Three assistant district attorneys who work under him, Patrick Gordon of Houlton, Todd Collins of Presque Isle and John Pluto of Hamlin, all are looking to fill his seat.

A Houlton native and a 1996 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law, Gordon returned to Houlton in 2007 to serve as assistant district attorneys in the Houlton office. Gordon said he has been an assistant district attorney for nine years, managing the Biddeford office of the York County District Attorney’s Office and trying more than 200 cases with a more than 96 percent success rate. He also has spent time in private practice.

Gordon said that protecting citizens and working with area legislators to change unfair laws would be a priority for him if elected district attorney, as will working toward getting harsher sentences for domestic abusers.

“The research now shows that more severe jail time, coupled with the appropriate intervention services, can be effective in rehabilitating domestic abusers,” he said.

Gordon also said he would work to lessen the scourge of drug abuse in The County.

“I think the most important issue in this area is the abuse of prescription drugs,” he said. “I believe we need to punish offenders more severely and educate the community about the problem, which I have already started to do by speaking to various community groups. I also want to work with the Legislature to hold doctors and pharmacists accountable when they overprescribe medications.”

Collins, a Fort Kent native, earned his law degrees from the Vermont Law School in 1998 and returned to Aroostook County to serve as assistant district attorney in the Caribou office in 2002. Before returning to Maine, Collins worked in the Strafford County Attorney’s Office in Dover, N.H., for three years.

Collins said that he understands the issues facing Aroostook County residents and has prosecuted more than 2,000 cases during his career. He said that if elected, he would build upon the success Adams has created during his term and would work hard to effectively deal with the problems that crimes and criminal activity present to area communities.

Collins said that he has always taken a stance against the perpetrators of family violence, burglaries and drug crimes and will continue to do so if elected district attorney. He also agreed that substance abuse is the biggest problem in the region right now.

“Drugs, alcohol and prescription medications are a significant factor in at least 85 percent of the crime in Aroostook County,” said Collins. “Many crimes from child and elder abuse to domestic violence and property crimes like burglaries have a connection to drug and alcohol abuse. This is not a problem that can be solved by law enforcement alone. It is a community problem and it needs a community response. The district attorney’s office under my tenure will take a leadership role in partnership with other community organizations in educating families and individuals about the consequences of abusing alcohol and illicit drugs and in misusing prescription medications.”

Pluto grew up in Pennsylvania and has been a practicing attorney for 30 years and a prosecutor for 22 years. He earned his law degree at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Ohio and started his career in private practice in Van Buren in 1980. Pluto served as deputy district attorney in Aroostook County from 1989 to 2002. From 2002 through late summer 2009, Pluto served as an assistant district attorney in York County, working in all of the York County courts. He returned to the Aroostook County District Attorney’s Office in Caribou in the fall of 2009.

Pluto said he has extensive trial experience dealing with everything from felony sexual assault and manslaughter cases to traffic court. He also said he has specialized training in the area of drug prosecutions and fraud and financial crimes.

“Having worked as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I know the criminal system inside and out,” he said.

Pluto said that he would bring a strong work ethic to the job if elected district attorney and pledged to be open-minded to the particular needs of every case. He also said he would seek significant jail time and penalties for criminals who merit a stiff sentence.

For information on Patrick Gordon, visit www.patgordonforda.com.

For information on Todd Collins, visit www.collinsforaroostookda.info.

For information on John Pluto, visit www.johnpluto.com.

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