The lead prosecutor for Alaska’s largest city will work in the Mat-Su and be replaced by his deputy, as Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s new administration makes its initial personnel changes at the state Department of Law.

Department spokeswoman Cori Mills confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen will be permanently moving to work as an assistant district attorney under Palmer DA Roman Kalytiak.

John Novak, Anchorage’s deputy district attorney, will take over Allen’s position. Mills said he has long experience in the state, and advises the state Department of Public Safety on legal matters.

“He's been a prosecutor for nearly 30 years in the department,” Mills said. “He's tried homicides; he's worked drug and vice.”

“I could not think of someone better than John to take on the important role of Anchorage DA,” newly appointed Attorney General Kevin Clarkson said in a statement Tuesday. “With the rising crime rates, it is more important than ever to have an experienced prosecutor leading the largest DA’s office in our state. His nearly 30 years of experience trying cases, supervising other attorneys, and giving advice to DPS gives him the tools needed to run the office and build up morale. I want to thank John for stepping up and taking on this leadership role.”

Controversy in Anchorage courtrooms has already made its mark on November's general election. Justin Schneider’s no-jail plea agreement in a controversial assault on an Alaska Native woman led angry voters to recall Michael Corey, the Superior Court judge who approved it.

At the time of the deal Allen spoke publicly in support of Assistant DA Andrew Grannik, the prosecutor in Schneider's case.

Allen’s shift to Palmer is effective Tuesday, according to Mills, with Novak formally taking over as Anchorage DA on Jan. 1.

Heather Hintze contributed information to this story.

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