Northampton County’s new district attorney hit the ground running Friday with a list of goals to accomplish in the coming year.
Among Terence Houck’s New Year’s resolutions are more community outreach and a focus on technology. He unveiled this list of goals at a news conference Friday in his office:
- He hopes to improve the department website and create a larger social media presence
- He hope to increase training and the “comfort level” with technological advances in law enforcement, including body cameras and computer advances.
- Each attorney on staff will participate in community outreach for organizations such as the Salvation Army, animal shelters and homeless shelters. “Giving back to our community is important,” Houck said.
- Assistant district attorneys will sit on the boards of the county’s mental health and drug courts.
- He’ll work with the county’s Office of Children, Youth and Families to create a Child Advocacy Center.
Houck won the election last year to succeed District Attorney John Morganelli, who served for the past 28 years. Morganelli won one of two open seats to become a county judge. For the first time ever, the district attorney’s office has only full-time attorneys.
“The current transition of the Northampton County district attorney’s office is unprecedented in county history,” he said.
Houck restructured the staff and announced various promotions. Richard Pepper is now the first assistant district attorney. According to Houck, Pepper has been an attorney for 45 years and a prosecutor for 36 years. “He is a high character guy and is a mentor to the young prosecutors,” Houck said. “I am honored that he’s taking on this critical role for me.”
Three assistant district attorneys were promoted into newly-created chief deputy district attorney slots. They will form the leadership group to address day-to-day issues. William Blake is now the chief deputy in charge of investigations. Patricia Fuentes Mulqueen is now chief deputy in charge of prosecutions. Tatum Wilson is now chief deputy in charge of training.
Each of those three will retain assignments as the heads of various crime units. Here’s the list of who now leads which crime unit in the office:
- Homicide/violent crime unit: Patricia Fuentes Mulqueen
- Drug enforcement/drug task force unit: Michael Thompson
- DUI unit: Joseph Lupackino
- White collar/deception/fraud unit: James Augustine
- Sex crimes/child abuse unit: Tatum Wilson
- Domestic violence unit: Ed Penetar
- Juvenile crimes unit: Sandra Foster McClure
- Appellate division: Rebecca Kulik
- Grand jury/major crimes unit: William Blake
Houck said he will occasionally try cases himself, as was Morganelli’s practice. Tina Queen was named the office manager for the district attorney’s office. Mehvish Ahmed is now the executive secretary.