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After exiting State Senate race amid harassment allegations, Jason Minnicozzi rejoins district attorney's office

From Jason Minnicozzi's Twitter account.

Minnicozzi has long worked for both the public defender's and district attorney's offices. He dropped out as the Democratic candidate in the State Senate District 7 race last summer, blaming campaign finance shortfalls. However, the North Carolina Democratic Party pointed to allegations that he’d used his position as a court officer to harass a domestic violence victim.

The allegations date back to 2015 when, according to employment records provided by the North Carolina Judicial Branch, Minnicozzi was employed by the New Hanover County public defender’s office.

Related: Accused of predatory abuse of power, state senate candidate Jason Minnicozzi withdraws, blaming financial issues

A young woman, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid additional harassment, alleged Minnicozzi used his position as a court official to get her personal information. She provided screenshots of direct messages indicating that Minnicozzi used her contact info to proposition her for a date after a traumatic day in court where she had confronted an ex-boyfriend in an assault case.

Below: Screenshots of messages from Minnicozzi.

Direct messages from state senate candidate Jason Minnicozzi.
Direct messages from state senate candidate Jason Minnicozzi.

The woman told WHQR that, when she discovered Minnicozzi was running for state office in June of 2022, she went public with the allegations. The North Carolina Democratic Party subsequently encouraged Minnicozzi to step down, saying “harassment of any kind cannot be tolerated.” While Minnicozzi responded to media requests for comment, he neither refuted nor directly acknowledged the allegations, and instead claimed he was dropping out because his campaign could not afford to counter an impending wave of negative Republican campaign ads.

At the time, New Hanover County Chief Public Defender Jennifer Harjo, who has overseen the office since 2008, declined to comment on Minnicozzi’s alleged behavior. According to employment records, he stayed with her office for five more months before transferring to the Columbus County District Attorney’s office; the move included a modest salary increase of $1,194, bringing his salary to $89,000.

District Attorney Jon David, who oversees prosecutors in Bladen, Brunswick, and Columbus counties, said Minnicozzi had a reputation for being an excellent trial lawyer and a "zealous advocate for the state," but had no additional comments on the allegations beyond providing employment details of Minnicozzi’s various positions in the judicial branch.

According to those records, Minnicozzi has moved back and forth between Columbus and New Hanover County since his initial hire under Harjo’s public defender office in 2013. He separated from the defender’s office on the first of January, 2017, and in October of that year began working as a prosecutor in Columbus County. Minnocozzi worked under David’s office for several years before moving back to New Hanover County to again work for Harjo, starting in early 2021.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.