Feb. 16—Several experienced prosecutors have joined the Hillsborough County Attorney Office, and a change has been made in one high-level position, said newly-installed County Attorney John Coughlin.
Coughlin said he has hired Shawn Sweeney, an attorney in private practice and former prosecutor in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, and named him his first assistant in the Manchester office.
He takes over the responsibilities of Nicole Schultz-Price, who had led the Manchester office during the tenure of Democrat County Attorney Michael Conlon.
Coughlin, a Republican and retired judge who ousted Conlon after a single term, said Schultz-Price will remain on and head his office's major crime unit.
"I thought he (Sweeney) was a good fit for the position," Coughlin said. "We're fortunate Nicole is going to stay on and head up the major crime unit."
The major crime unit prosecutes robbery, burglary, negligent homicide, gang-related crimes and some weapons-related crimes.
Schultz-Price successfully prosecuted Brandon Griffin, the leader of a violent Manchester street gang known as "The Squad."
Coughlin said he made the change last month. He said Kent Smith will remain on as the first assistant in his Nashua office.
Other hires include:
* Alex Gatzoulis, a former prosecutor in Rockingham and Cheshire counties. Gatzoulis will work in the drug unit. His brother, Arthur Gatzoulis, is a prominent defense attorney.
* Mark Ryder, a defense lawyer on the Seacoast, will join the office's major crime unit.
* Norm Lazarow, a lawyer who is also a board-certified cardiologist, will work in the special victims unit, which deals with crimes such as rape and domestic violence. On his first day, Lazarow helped prosecutors review medical records, Coughlin said. Previously, Lazarow has worked as a volunteer with the Sullivan County Attorney Office.
* Shannon Blankenbeker, an assistant attorney general in Texas, will work in the early case resolution unit, a fast-paced office that handles plea bargains and quick resolutions of minor crimes.
Coughlin held the county attorney position for about a year in 2003 before being called up to active military service in Iraq. Shortly after his return, he became a district court judge.
"It's exciting," he said about the return to his former job. He credited Hillsborough County commissioners for approving several of his requests.