Davis names new public defender and Vet Services director to administration

Local News

On Tuesday, Erie County Executive-Elect Brenton Davis announced two appointments, filling spots in both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of the Public Defender.

Joe Benacci, a 21-year veteran of the Army Reserves and former employee of a building supply company, has been named to head the county’s Department of Veterans Affairs, and Nicole Sloane, a criminal defense attorney, has been named Erie County Public Devender. Both are Erie County natives.

“I am excited that both Joe and Nicole have agreed to spend part of their careers in public service,” said Davis. “Both are proven leaders, fully prepared to take on the task of helping the citizens of Erie County.”

Sloane holds a teaching degree in mathematics education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Duquesne University School of Law.

Sloane, a veteran of the U.S. Army, originally joined the Office of the Public Defender in 2006, starting as a part-time employee before eventually joining the office on a full-time basis.

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During her career, she has represented clients in more than 4,600 cases. She teaches criminal law classes to Pennsylvania attorneys, including the Erie County Bar Association.

“I want to build on the success of my predecessors,” Sloane said. “Not only to provide excellent representation to indigent citizen charged with criminal offense, but go beyond that by reducing recidivism, addressing mental illness, and also trying to do what we can to also reduce the number of domestic violence cases.”

Benacci enlisted in the Army Reserves in February 1982 as a member of the 92nd Field Artillery Battalion in Erie. After 21 years in service, he retired in 2002 with the rank of First Sergeant.

After the 9/11 attacks, Benacci was activated with the Erie-based 542nd in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and served overseas in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. He earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal along with sever other service awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.

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