Carbon County's chief prosecutor is retiring.
District Attorney Gary F. Dobias of Palmerton made his intentions known this week that he is planning to step down from the job in September.
Dobias has held the position of district attorney since 1992 and is currently serving his sixth term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2015.
"This is the right time for me to step down," he told the Times News this morning, citing his age and health as some of the reasons for his decision. "I also want to spend more time with my family. I have a son in Georgia and a daughter and grandchildren in Virginia who I would like to see more often."
Under state law, First Assistant District Attorney Jean A. Engler will become district attorney once Dobias officially retires. She will finish out Dobias' current term.
Dobias, 65, is a native of Palmerton, having graduated from Palmerton Area High School. He and his wife, Tammy, have two children, Rebecca of Virginia and Jeffrey of Georgia.
He is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree, and a 1974 graduate of Memphis University, where he earned his law degree.
Dobias' career in Carbon County began in 1980, when he served as a prosecutor in the district attorney's office under then District Attorney Richard W. Webb.
In addition, Dobias has served as an adjunct professor at Lehigh Carbon Community College; and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Police Youth Organization, known as Camp Cadet Troop N.
He is also a member of the American Bar Association; the Pennsylvania Bar Association; the Carbon County Bar Association; and the Carbon County Democratic Executive Committee.
In 2001, Dobias was elected to the executive committee of the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association, the governing body of all district attorneys in Pennsylvania. He is a former secretary/treasurer of the organization and served as its president in 2008-2009.
He has gained great respect as a prosecutor, supervising a growing office that has seen a sharp increase in criminal cases over the last decade.
He has run for office six times, all unopposed.
While serving as the county district attorney, Dobias prosecuted a number of high profile cases, including both criminal and homicide cases.
Most notably, Dobias successfully prosecuted Ernest Freeby, of Lansford. Freeby was charged with killing his wife, Edwina Aiteno Onyango, and disposing of the body.
After a three-week trial, one of the longest in the county's court system history, Freeby was found guilty of first-degree murder.
He was sentenced to life without parole.
The unique part of the case was that Onyango's body has never been found.
In addition to county court, Dobias is approved to practice before the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Pennsylvania Supreme Court, United States District Court and United States Supreme Court.