Complaint against Higgins tossed

BEDFORD – State prosecutors have dismissed an Everett Borough councilman’s criminal accusations against Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins, according to a letter from state Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office.

A month after Everett council member Charles W. Karns submitted a private criminal complaint accusing Higgins of illegally releasing sealed court records, two deputies in her office said his case lacked “prosecutorial merit” and failed “to substantiate the essential elements of the alleged offenses.”

Karns accused Higgins of breaking the law in April and May, when he issued two press releases on Karns’ second drunken driving case. In the releases, Higgins referred to Karns as a “repeat DUI offender.”

The first drunken driving case had been expunged from Karns’ record, however, and the councilman said Higgins’ statements amounted to release of confidential information.

State prosecutors disagreed, stating in their letter to Karns that the case is closed and Karns’ request for an investigation declined.

Discussing the dismissal Monday, Higgins called the accusations frivolous and questioned the case’s news value.

Higgins said he frequently receives questionable criminal allegations against government officials and dismisses many out of hand. He disputed many of Karns’ earlier statements, including the suggestion that the pair used to drink together at bars.

Normally, a private complaint would be subject to the district attorney’s approval, but because it involved Higgins, it was forwarded to Kane’s office.

Karns said he plans to rewrite his accusations and submit them again to prosecutors.

“I’m going to clarify it. … I had an attorney and a state trooper read that law, and they determined it was right on the mark,” he said. “I’m not sure what’s going on with the attorney general.”

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.