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11 vie for top prosecutor job

September 24, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — This week, 11 of the state’s senior prosecutors vie to become the next State’s Attorney for the Ansonia-Milford Judicial District.

The state’s Criminal Justice Commission, headed by Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald and including Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane, began interviewing the candidates on Monday and could make a choice next week for the $125,000 job.

The district handles all criminal prosecutions for the cities of Milford, Ansonia, Derby, Shelton and West Haven and the towns of Orange, Seymour, Oxford and Beacon Falls.

While not one of the largest of the state’s 13 judicial districts, it has had its share of notorious cases — including the 2014 fatal stabbing of high school student Maren Sanchez by classmate Christopher Plaskon.

“The division is lucky to have a lot of qualified people who want to be state’s attorney,” said outgoing State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor, who was recently promoted to deputy chief state’s attorney for operations after being at the helm of the Ansonia-Milford district for 12 years.

Before becoming state’s attorney, Lawler was second in command of the district under then-State’s Attorney Mary Galvin and like Galvin, who now sits on the commission that will appoint the next state’s attorney, Lawlor is endorsing his second in command, Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Cornelius (Neil) Kelly to be his replacement.

“My logical successor is Neil Kelly, who has been working as my chief assistant,” Lawlor said. “He has the unanimous support of everyone in the office and the courthouse.”

A prosecutor for 28 years, Kelly began as a prosecutor in Bridgeport and is nationally recognized as an expert in prosecuting sexual assault cases. He was appointed a supervisor in Milford in 2014.

But he faces some stiff competition.

C. Robert Satti Jr. is second in command of the Bridgeport Judicial District and is the most experienced prosecutor in the state with more than 35 years in the state’s Division of Criminal Justice. During that time, he has prosecuted more than 150 cases including Richard Roszkowski, who was ordered to get the death penalty for the murders of a mother, her young daughter and another man in Bridgeport.

Satti, who lives in Milford, is also serving on that city’s zoning board.

Margaret Kelley, a prosecutor for more than 30 years, is currently supervisor of the prosecutor’s office in the Golden Hill Street courthouse, considered the busiest in the state. She has prosecuted more than 80 cases including Roszkowski with Satti and that of Christopher DiMeo, who was spared the death penalty verdict by a jury for the murders of Fairfield jewelers Tim and Kim Donnelly.

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Harry has been a prosecutor in Bridgeport for 28 years. He was previously a colonel in the army reserve and served as a police officer in Stratford.

John Doyle Jr. is a senior assistant state’s attorney in New Haven and is also president of the state prosecutor’s union.

After working as a prosecutor in Danbury, Colleen Zingaro is now a senior assistant state’s attorney in Bridgeport.

If there is a Bridgeport fan favorite, it may be Catherine Brannelly Austin. A state prosecutor for 17 years, she also served as city clerk in Bridgeport and was a founder of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Also being considered for the position are:

John F. Fahey, a senior assistant state’s attorney in Hartford; Stacey Haupt Miranda, senior assistant state’s attorney in New Haven; Sharmese L. Hodge, assistant state’s attorney in Hartford, and Cynthia Serafini, senior assistant state’s attorney in Waterbury.

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