ELLSWORTH — District Attorney-elect Matt Foster’s roster of prosecutors just got smaller.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Entwisle gave Foster notice Monday that he would be transferring to Prosecutorial District 6’s Belfast office.
District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau helms District 6, which covers Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties.
“My new job was confirmed on Sunday,” Entwisle said.
Entwisle was the Democratic nominee for district attorney. He lost to Foster in last month’s elections.
Foster had wanted Entwisle to stay. In a November interview, Foster noted that “fifteen thousand voters wanted Entwisle to be district attorney” — a significant expression of confidence.
Entwisle said he sought the new job.
“Throughout the campaign, through the summer and fall, Matt and I clearly had our differences about what was best for this district going forward,” Entwisle said. “I came to the conclusion the opportunity in District 6 was a better one for me, a better fit for me.”
Entwisle’s impending departure leaves Foster short three experienced prosecutors.
On Nov. 13, Foster sent a letter to current District Attorney Carletta Bassano, asking her to inform Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh and Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett that they would not have positions in his office.
Foster acknowledged last week that he did not realize when he when he put out the word that he wouldn’t retain them that there would be no funds to hire Cavanaugh and Kellett’s replacements until June.
Funding for prosecutor salaries comes from the Maine Attorney General’s Office.
So, unless an arrangement is reached with Attorney General Janet Mills, Foster will be left with himself and two “junior prosecutors” as he described them, in Washington County.
Foster said Tuesday, “I’m still in negotiations with the AG. I don’t have anything firm yet.”
The district attorney-elect said Entwisle advised him of his impending departure on Monday.
Entwisle said it would be up to Foster when his last day is at the Hancock County office.
Entwisle said the caseload would be about the same in District 6, which has a slightly larger office than Hancock County’s DA, with eight prosecutors to District 7’s six.
Entwisle is filling an opening created by a lateral transfer.
This is not the first shakeup to occur when a new district attorney was elected.
District 4, which covers Kennebec and Somerset counties, had a shakeup after former District Attorney Evert Fowle was named a district court judge in 2012.
The office was then and still is headed by former state Rep. Maeghan Maloney.
According to a Jan. 1, 2013, report in the Portland Press Herald, the District 4 office saw “drastic changes in personnel in 2012.”
“Nine of the 11 attorneys who started the year were gone by the end of it,” the Herald article stated. The staffing changes included the departure of Allan Kelley, who had been prosecuting cases for 33 years. Kelley had lost the Democratic bid for the office to Maloney that year.