St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Melissa Gilliam explained a grant that her department received and gave her yearly report to the St. Francois County Commission during their regular session Tuesday.
“Earlier this year I applied for a federal grant,” she said. “I was given information by former Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce that they had funds available for an audit from the Prosecutor’s Center for Excellence (PCE). The office was awarded it and two weeks ago they finalized it.
“The federal grant is to fund the PCE, they are out of New York City. Jennifer Joyce is a member of it, which is why she mentioned it to me. They come into the office for three days, they will talk to members of the judiciary, they will talk to all of the members of the office, they will ask to talk to [the commissioners], they will talk to the police departments in the county, they will speak to any policymakers or any people of interest in the criminal justice system.”
According to Gilliam, members of the PCE will arrive on Nov. 18 and be working with county officials for three days, then work on an initial report and return to Farmington with the findings.
“Essentially they will be looking at how the office was run before, they will talk to individuals and discuss how it can be run better,” she said. “It’s an audit but it’s not a financial audit. It’s going to help us format and move our cases as quickly as possible. Any recommendations they have, we will gladly take.”
Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher clarified, “You’re looking at maybe improving paperwork flow and processes and efficiency.”
“Absolutely,” said Gilliam.
Gilliam then moved on to the yearly criminal case report to the commission.
“At any given time in the county, we usually have about 2,000 active and open cases,” she said. “In particular this year, we have already from January to today’s date charged a total of 1,555 cases. That’s a total of 3,024 individual charges. Six hundred and seventy seven of those are felony charges, 1,080 of those are misdemeanor charges. The same time last year there had been 1,578 charges, so we’re down about 13 cases.”
Gilliam then broke down the statistics in felony charges. She noted that the largest amount of felony charges in the county involves drugs at 293 total cases.
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“Two hundred and thirty three of which are simple possession, the rest either involve trafficking, which is large amounts, drug dealing, delivery, manufacturing,” she said.
Stealing came in second in felonies with 151 cases and third was domestic violence at 52 cases. The domestic violence cases were mainly assaults.
“Number four comes in at burglary, we have 39 of those, those include storage units, too,” Gilliam said. “Assaults were 43, and so far we charged three homicide cases.”
In misdemeanor cases, drugs came in first again with 153 cases of possession of drug paraphernalia or possession of misdemeanor amounts of marijuana, Gilliam explained.
“Numbers two, three and four are all driving offenses,” she said. “Driving with license suspended, 127 cases. Driving under the influence, 67 cases. Careless and imprudent involving car accidents are 60 cases.
“Domestic violence is still high at 22 cases. Orders of protection charges are 38, and simple assaults are 36.”
Sheriff Dan Bullock asked about child abuse and neglect cases. Gilliam noted that the numbers were lower than the other crime categories, but still significant.
“We do have a quite a bit of those as well,” she said. "Endangering the welfare of a child, we charged 13 cases in the first degree. Five cases in the second degree, abuse or neglect of a child of serious emotional injury, one case. Abuse without it, one case. One sexual trafficking of a child. Those are felonies alone.”
Gilliam said they had eight convictions out of nine jury trials. One trial resulted in a hung jury. One trial was a bench trial presided by Circuit Court Judge Wendy Wexler Horn, which was a conviction, and one was a jury trial in Washington County with a conviction.