Flanagan sworn in Monday as Belmont County prosecutor
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County has a new prosecutor — Kevin Flanagan, who has long served as assistant prosecutor under Dan Fry and was sworn in Monday with his staff at the courthouse.
From there, he spoke with the Belmont County Board of Commissioners about ongoing work to renovate a building along U.S. 40 to house the prosecutor’s office and county court operations. Flanagan said the new location is expected to be a welcome change.
“We are told that we will move in at the end of February. We appreciate the commissioners. They recognized we needed the ability to expand,” he said. “It will give us the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the three county courts. We are looking forward to being able to move into this building.”
Flanagan said 2021 will see more innovation in the approach to court cases. He added he relies on the expertise of his staff.
“Our goal is to build on what we have already done,” he said. “One of the things I am most proud about is the level of experience of our staff, not only the assistant prosecutors but also our administrative staff. We have people that are clearly committed to the office, and that actually bodes well for the public that we serve, as well as the offices that we are in contact with.”
He said his office is taking on Chris Gagin as an additional prosecutor, and the part-time civil prosecutor David Liberati is now full time.
“The county is now in a much different situation than what it has been in decades past, so bringing somebody to assist not only our commissioners but also the trustees and every other agency that we represent, bringing that person on full-time is a must.”
Flanagan said Gagin is also a valuable addition.
“He has a tremendous amount of trial experience, so we will add him to the trial team that we have assembled,” he said.
He said Rhonda Greenwood will continue to handle juvenile court cases. Scott Lloyd will remain assistant prosecutor for misdemeanor-level cases. Flanagan said each has more than 20 years of experience in law.
The staff numbers 13 in all.
Issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic are also expected to carry on into 2021. Courts have been relying more on technology to conduct court hearings at a distance. The courts also have worked to keep the jail from being overcrowded.
“COVID has definitely changed the way we handle court proceedings. It has not, however, changed the way that we handle the charges that are presented to us. That will never change. We will continue to be aggressive in the drug cases that we handle. Those types of cases … still seem to have an impact on the public. We separate those cases on who’s actually a drug trafficker vsersus who needs drug rehabilitation.”
In terms of integrating technology, Flanagan noted a few years ago, the prosecutor’s office put a case management system in place for use by law enforcement.
“That helps us keep track of all of the incoming cases in order to make sure that they are handled in the manner for which they should,” he said. “It allows us to become more efficient as an office and more efficient in dealing with the courts.”
Looking to 2021, Flanagan is expecting several serious cases to go before the courts.
“We have, unfortunately, a fair amount of child sex abuse cases that we will be trying at the beginning of 2021,” he said.