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Sherman native takes over as district attorney

January 14, 2016
By JIMMY McCARTHY , Westfield Republican

As the new acting district attorney for Chautauqua County, Patrick Swanson is ready to perform the duties and responsibilities of the job in a similar manner to his predecessor.

Swanson assumed the role as acting district attorney on Jan. 1 after being chosen by David Foley, former district attorney. Foley resigned from the job to enter his new position as county court judge.

In his fourth year with the county district attorney's office, Swanson, the 38-year-old resident of Fredonia, said the first couple days will be spent familiarizing himself with staffing and administrative roles of the job. Swanson will serve as interim district attorney until November when voters will elect a candidate to serve a four-year term. Swanson previously prosecuted felony cases in northern Chautauqua County.

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Patrick Swanson

"Dave has done a phenomenal job with this office," Swanson said. "I want to continue the legacy that he's set here. If I can perform the duties of this office as well as he did, I think that would be my main goal."

Two homicide cases pending in Chautauqua County will be handled by Swanson. In July, a 14-year-old female was charged with first-degree manslaughter in connection to the death of a 21-month-old child at a Harmony residence. In December, 51-year-old Allen P. Witruke was charged with two counts of second-degree murder after allegedly killing his wife and stepson at a Barrows Street residence in Jamestown.

"They're currently on my desk for review so I can get up to speed and handle those," Swanson said.

A graduate of Wake Forest University, Swanson went on to attend the University of Memphis Law School. He practiced law in Tennessee for almost four years. Swanson worked in the Erie County District Attorney's Office before moving to the staff of prosecutors in Chautauqua County.

Before stepping down as district attorney, Foley was ready to appoint John Zuroski, first assistant district attorney, to fill the interim role. However, Zuroski declined the position as he cited personal reasons and a passion for his current job prosecuting felonies in the city of Jamestown. Zuroski will stay as first assistant district attorney as February will mark his 15th year in the position.

"The acting district attorney spot is one that requires around-the-clock work," Zuroski said. "In some ways, my family plays into that. I'm in a position in my life after 28 years that I enjoy my work immensely. What I like about being the first assistant is that you help the district attorney with everything and yet you still have your own active caseload."

As of now, Swanson said a decision to run for the district attorney seat in November will be put to the side as the focus turns to maintaining the office and performing the job at hand.

"If I do decide to run, I'll be making an announcement at the appropriate time," he said.



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