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PERRY COUNTY - Perry County voters will find a contested race for county prosecutor on their November ballot.
S. Rod Acchiardo, a Tell City attorney, filed in Indianapolis last week as a Republican for the seat held for nearly 12 years by Democrat Robert Collins. The two will appear on the November ballot. Collins is seeking his fourth term.
"The voters of Perry County have not had a choice for prosecutor in 12 years. I believe it is time they had a choice," the candidate said, touting his years of private-practice experience. "I have never run for political office and have been in private practice my entire legal career. I have a long and close working relationship with the court of Perry County. I am intimately familiar with the administration of law in Perry County, having served as counsel before the court and having cases before the court on a daily basis for over eight years now. I believe that due to my broad range of experience, I can be a more effective prosecutor for Perry County. I believe it is time for change after 12 years."
Acchiardo has been married for 22 years to Lisa Ramsey, daughter of Guy Neil and LaVerne Ramsey of Tell City. They have three children, Joseph, 20, Paul, 19, and Laura, 17.
Acchiardo said his experience as a husband and father give him a "certain temperament that will be invaluable in the office of prosecutor."
Acchiardo said he is a Catholic and member of the Knights of Columbus.
He earned his bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and his law degree, with honors from University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphries School of Law. While there, he was a member of the Law Review which produces a quarterly legal journal primarily for consumption by the legal community.
"I graduated in the top 10 percent of my class. I began my law career as an associate with a 200-man law firm in Baltimore and then continued in private practice before moving to southern Indiana in 2001," he said.
Acchiardo is admitted to practice law in the states of Indiana, Tennessee and Maryland and has represented clients before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, U.S. District Court for Western District of Kentucky, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court among other courts.
"I have represented criminal defendants in state and federal courts. I have represented the people of Perry County in criminal law as defense counsel as well as bankruptcy matters and civil litigation at the trial level as well as before the courts of appeal of Indiana for the past 8 1/2 years," he said.
He shares a law office at 712 Jefferson St. in Tell City with his brother-in-law, local attorney Mark Ramsey.
Among important issues Acchiardo pointed out is the number of people on probation.
"One big issue relates to being tough on crime but fair in its administration. I do not want to see a county full of felons. In the past 12 years Perry County has risen to one of the highest percentage of people on probation per capita in the state of Indiana. The people here are no more inclined to commit crimes than anywhere else in Indiana. There is something known as prosecutorial discretion. In my opinion, not everyone needs to be convicted of a felony. For example, a woman with no criminal record is charged with felony theft for shoplifting a $10 T-shirt. She cannot now get a job in a factory or just about anywhere else with a felony conviction. It is a serious matter. This may judiciously be treated as a misdemeanor conversion, allowing her to work in a factory job.
If you take an otherwise law-abiding citizen and take away any options you will create career criminals. "
On the other hand, Acchiardo said those who commit serious crimes, such as manufacturing meth or burglary, should be punished severely with years of jail time after conviction on a Class A or Class B felony.
"If elected I will prosecute the serious offenders to the fullest extent permitted by law," he said.