PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire District Attorney's Office has hired Brett Vottero as a special prosecutor to help handle what it calls a "backlog" of seven homicide cases.

Vottero, a former Hampden County prosecutor who also ran for Hampden district attorney in 2014, was hired on a part-time basis "several weeks ago," according to Dennis Yusko, a spokesman for Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington.

"His role in our office is similar to the role he played in the Northwestern District Attorney's Office under District Attorney David E. Sullivan, where he also served as a special prosecutor," Yusko told The Eagle on Thursday in a prepared statement.

In that instance, Vottero prosecuted the case of Anthony Baye, who was convicted of setting and attempting to set more than three dozen fires in Northampton in December 2009. After one full day of testimony, Baye pleaded guilty to 48 charges, including two counts of manslaughter, and was sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Yusko said that Vottero's role is "in some part" related to the transition from the administration of former Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello, whom Harrington defeated in November's general election.

"Harrington believes that the use of special prosecutors can be a cost-effective tool to deal with the ebb and flow of complex cases in the office," he said.

Vottero will be responsible for prosecuting the cases of Carey Pilot, who is among three defendants charged in the October 2017 shooting death of Asiyanna Jones, and JC Chadwell in the shooting death of Paul Henry in July 2017. The cases are unrelated.

The remaining homicide cases will be prosecuted by First Assistant DA Karen Bell and Assistant DA Joseph Yorlano, Yusko said.

"We are actively working to reduce the current backlog of cases, and we are making progress," he said. "Utilizing special prosecutors allows us to be nimble and avoid the long-term salary and benefit costs associated with full-time Superior Court prosecutors."

Vottero will be paid at a rate of $100 per hour, which Yusko said is the same rate at which public defenders are paid in homicide cases. Vottero will not receive additional benefits on top of his salary.

"District Attorney Harrington and Berkshire County are lucky that Attorney Vottero is able to serve us in this manner," Yusko said.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.