TAWAS CITY – Iosco County has a new prosecuting attorney after 23rd Circuit Court Judge David C. Riffel appointed and swore in Assistant Prosecutor James Bacarella as the county’s prosecutor during a court hearing on Friday.
This came after the announcement by longtime Iosco County Prosecutor Gary Rapp of his June 12 retirement.
Bacarella will serve out the remainder of Rapp’s term, which ends Dec. 31, but is on the ballot running for his own term as prosecutor, and is so far unopposed in that election, which will be in November. Attorney Andrew Mong was hired effective June 12 to serve as an assistant prosecutor for Bacarella.
Rapp has a long history of working as a prosecutor, and started his career as an assistant prosecutor working in Lapeer in 1981. The East Tawas native was elected as Iosco’s prosecutor in 1984 and worked that job for 28 years, until he lost the election to former prosecuting attorney Nicole Palumbo.
Rapp ran again in 2016 for prosecutor in Iosco County after serving as an assistant prosecutor in Alcona County for several years.
According to Rapp, he wanted to be an attorney since he was in high school, taking part in the debate team, and also participated in the debate team. He said he liked to argue, and thought that getting into a profession where you argue for a living would be a good choice.
After graduating from Ferris State College, now known as Ferris State University, and getting a law degree from the Detroit School of Law in 1980, Rapp worked for a year as a defense attorney before becoming an assistant prosecutor in Lapeer.
According to Rapp, he wanted to get into the prosecuting end of the profession to be a public servant.
“It’s the satisfaction of trying to do things to help the victims of crime,” he said. “I’ve always felt that as a prosecutor you are a public servant.”
He said throughout his career he has taken the time to be accessible to the public with their issues, and invited people to come see him at his office.
“I always had an open door policy and I tried to help them out, I’d steer them in the right direction,” he said.
Rapp said he decided at age 65 that it was time to retire and let “some young blood” into the office to take on the prosecuting work for the county. He said he plans to catch up on things around his home and travel with his wife around the United States in a motor home and see the county.
He said his career has been long and satisfying to him, even fun. He said another aspect of the jobs is not putting victims through their hard times again. He said for that reason, and for time issues, a lot of Iosco County’s cases have been pled down and did not go to trial, something that his department has been criticized for in the past.
“People don’t understand why we plea cases, but no one is ever going to,” he said. “There isn’t enough time in the day to try all the cases. I think I opened 1,300 cases in a year, both misdemeanor and felony, and it’s impossible to try them all.”
Rapp said looking at sentencing guidelines, many of those cases that were pleaded down, the defendant gets the same sentence or punishment.
“And a lot of victims don’t want to be put through it again,” he said. “I always talk to my victims.”