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National Program Coming to GSC to Benefit Local Youth

The Gilmer Free Press

A student internship at Glenville State College brings a national program to a local elementary school. GSC is partnering with non-profit organization Vision Shared to bring the Lemonade Day project to Glenville Elementary School. 

“Lemonade Day is a fun, exciting way to teach kids about entrepreneurship using something as simple as a lemonade stand. Our local elementary students that are involved have been very creative and innovative in planning their lemonade and stands,“ said GSC Associate Professor of Vocational Business Cinda Echard.

Lemonade Day is a non-profit national event that educates youth in elementary and middle school about entrepreneurial skills. Lemonade Day is backed by the West Virginia Department of Education. 2012 GSC graduate Matthew Thompson, CNP of St. Albans (Kanawha County), West Virginia works for Vision Shared and is the Lemonade Day Program Director.

“Lemonade Day is the premiere program for teaching youth entrepreneurship available today. Students that participate learn valuable life lessons including goal setting, creating a budget, and leadership. These kids are truly the entrepreneurs of tomorrow! Being an alum of GSC, I’m honored to be working along with their business department students to reach the children of Gilmer County. Lemonade Day is a culmination of the lessons I learned as a Business Administration - Marketing major with a Nonprofit Management minor,“ said Thompson.

The project is a series of fourteen different lessons that educate children about basic skills and knowledge needed to start, operate, and maintain a business of their own. The lessons range from accounting and marketing to making healthy lemonade and building a stand. Each class is responsible for obtaining supplies needed to build their own stands.

GSC senior marketing and sport management major Megan Burkhammer of Cox’s Mills (Gilmer County), West Virginia is using the event to obtain credit for her marketing internship. The college’s Lemonade Day advisors are Echard and GSC Career Services Counselor Joanna DiStefano. Being the main contact for Glenville’s Lemonade Day, Burkhammer has arranged every detail such as preparing for and holding meetings, recruiting GSC students to volunteer, and planning the Lemonade Day event.

“It’s been a rewarding experience to be able to watch the children learn, be creative, and incorporate the lessons they have learned from Lemonade Day into their regular school lessons. Each class has a unique stand and theme, and I cannot wait to see how all of them come together and turn out on Lemonade Day,“ said Burkhammer.

“I am looking forward to being able to actually sell the lemonade and learn how to make our own version of lemonade on Lemonade Day. This has been a fun experience,“ said Glenville Elementary School 6th grade student Jaycie Johnson. 

GSC’s Lemonade Day will be held on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at Glenville Elementary School from 1:15 PM until 3:00 PM. Two fourth grade classes along with all fifth and sixth graders will create one lemonade stand for each class.

GSC student volunteers and Lemonade Day advisors spent four weeks in Glenville Elementary teaching lessons from the workbook provided by the Lemonade Day organization. Each participant receives a lemon yellow draw-string backpack with their workbook of lessons.

Burkhammer obtained ten event sponsorships from local businesses including: Waco Oil & Gas, Gil-Co Faith Pharmacy, Smith Land Surveying, Shelly DeMarino Attorney at Law, State Farm Insurance Agent Dan Smith, Frame’s Oil Field Services, McDonalds, United Bank, Ratliff and Ratliff Insurance, and the Glenville Pathfinder/Democrat newspaper. Each class made a pitch to a loan board in order to receive this money and purchase needed supplies such as lemons, sugar, or stand materials.

Echard concluded, “I invite everyone to come see these entrepreneurs at work and refresh yourself with some lemonade on April 29, 2014 at Glenville Elementary.“

For more information about the Lemonade Day project contact Echard at or 304.462.6257, or DiStefano at or 304.462.6151, or Thompson at or 304.757.4840.

Clay County Woman Says State Wrongly Put Her on Child Abuse Registry

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

A Clay County woman is suing West Virginia Child Protective Services and employees after she discovered her name on the child abuser registry list.

DHHRMelissa Cook filed a lawsuit March 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court against West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Children and Families Protective Services, also known as Child Protective Services, Douglas Robinson, Toby Lester and Tammy Bailey, citing intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, punitive damages, constitutional violation of due process and deprivation.

Cook claims she was in a relationship with an ex-boyfriend who acted erratically due to a head trauma and failure to take correct medication to control seizures. The suit alleges they would frequently quarrel and the defendant intervened in their relationship.

In April 2000, the ex was assessed to be a dangerous risk to Cook and his child, as well as Cook’s other children, and was not allowed to be left alone with them.

According to the brief, Cook followed all plans requested by the defendants, but she found out in February 2012 she was wrongfully placed on a child abuser registry list, resulting in her job being terminated. She says she’s suffered damages as a result.

Cook is seeking damages, immediate removal of Cook from child abuser registry list, attorney fees, interest and court costs.

She is being represented in the case by Charleston attorney Todd W. Reed. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

Kanawha Circuit Court Case No. 14-C-567

~~  Ben Hart - WV Record ~~

Notice to Citizens of Gilmer and Surrounding Counties

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer County Circuit Clerk Karen Elkin will be in her office all day on Friday, April 18, 2014.

The back door at the top of the fire escape will be open (weather permitting) or use the buzzer and she will grant you entrance.

Gilmer County Magistrate Court will also be open on Good Friday.

This is per directive received from Chief Judge Alsop.

GFP - 04.18.2014
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Looks like drug busts and roundups on the menu for today!

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Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 04.14.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, April 09, 2014, Judge Richard A. Facemire heard 2 cases in the morning hours.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Justin Handshoe

A fugitive from Kentucky, waived extradition and authorities in that state have until 4 PM Friday, April 18, 2014 to pick him up or Central Regional Jail will release him from custody.

Handshoe was represented by Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon.

•  Judge also heard was a juvenile matter which was reset for Monday, June 23, 2014 at 9:20 AM.

In the afternoon of April 09, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop heard several matters in Gilmer County.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Kelland Sherrod

A fugitive from Ohio, waived extradition and authorities there have until 4 PM Friday, April 18, 2014 to pick him up or Central Regional Jail will release him from custody.

Sherrod was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.

•  Three juvenile matters were heard and reset as follows:

Monday, June 09, 2014 at 10:10 AM, one at 10:20 AM and the third for Friday, May 16, 2014 at 1 PM.

Chief Judge Jack Alsop presided over his motion day on Monday, April 14, 2014 in Gilmer County.

•  Six juvenile matters were heard and reset:

One for Monday, June 09, 2014 at 10:30 AM, one for 10:40 AM, one for Monday, May 12, 2014 at 10:00 AM, one for Monday, July 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM, one for Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM and one was previously scheduled for another date.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Harlin Campbell

A magistrate appeal was set for a bench trial for Wednesday, June 04, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

David Karickhoff of Sutton represents Campbell.

•  In the civil matter between Julie Conrad vs. Gilmer County Senior Citizen’s

After hearing a motion to dismiss by defense counsel, Jan Fox, the Court felt the complaint was not sufficient on its face and ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint within 20 days and took the motion to dismiss under advisement.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Ricky Townsend

He was before the Court for sentencing and Judge Alsop opted to double his sentence for a second drug conviction and ordered Townsend to be sentenced to 4-20 years in the penitentiary.

Townsend was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Robert Hacker

He was before the Court for sentencing, as was Rodney Singleton, but both defendants sentencings were reset for Monday, May 12, 2014.

Hacker’s at 1 PM and Singleton’s at 10:10 AM.

Hacker is represented by co-counsel Steve Manners and Bryan Hinkle, both of Buckhannon.

Singleton is represented by Jerome Novobilski of Clay.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Daniel Rose

He was before the Court asking for mental evaluation, which motion was granted by the Court.

Hinkle also represented Rose.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Derrick Stalnaker

He was before the Court, represented by Valentina Wheeler of Charleston, asking for his case to be dismissed.

Judge Alsop denied her motion but did permit him to be released on bond and house arrest.

Later that afternoon bond was posted and he will be hooked up on house arrest in Lewis County on Tuesday and he was released from Central Regional Jail.

Judge Enforces Settlement Agreement in Mylan Patent Case

The Gilmer Free Press

Mylan Inc. (Nasdaq: MYL) has confirmed that a federal district court has granted its request to enforce a settlement agreement between Endo Pharmaceuticals and Mylan settling patent litigation in connection with Mylan’s filing of an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Frovatriptan Succinate Tablets, 2.5 mg.

This product is the generic version of FROVA®, which is used to treat acute migraine headaches in adults.

As a result of the decision, the Court has vacated its January 28, 2014, decision in favor of Endo regarding the parties’ patent litigation over this product, which could have prevented Mylan from launching its generic version of FROVA until after the expiration of U.S. Patent 5,464,864 patent on November 07, 2015. By enforcing the settlement, Mylan can launch its product pursuant to the terms of the settlement, contingent upon final FDA approval.

For the 12 months ending December 31, 2013, Frovatriptan had U.S. sales of approximately $66.41 million, according to IMS Health.

Currently, Mylan has 187 ANDAs pending FDA approval representing $94.9 billion in annual brand sales, according to IMS Health. Forty-two of these pending ANDAs are potential first-to-file opportunities, representing $25.4 billion in annual brand sales, for the 12 months ending December 31, 2013, according to IMS Health.

This press release includes statements that constitute “forward-looking statements,“ including with regard to the settlement of litigation and sales of products. These statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Because such statements inherently involve risks and uncertainties, actual future results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to: any legal or regulatory challenges to the settlement; strategies by competitors or other third parties to delay or prevent product introductions; risks inherent in legal and regulatory processes; and the other risks detailed in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company undertakes no obligation to update these statements for revisions or changes after the date of this release.

Mylan is a global pharmaceutical company committed to setting new standards in health care. Working together around the world to provide 7 billion people access to high quality medicine, we innovate to satisfy unmet needs; make reliability and service excellence a habit; do what’s right, not what’s easy; and impact the future through passionate global leadership. We offer a growing portfolio of more than 1,300 generic pharmaceuticals and several brand medications. In addition, we offer a wide range of antiretroviral therapies, upon which approximately 40% of HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries depend. We also operate one of the largest active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers and currently market products in approximately 140 countries and territories. Our workforce of more than 20,000 people is dedicated to improving the customer experience and increasing pharmaceutical access to consumers around the world. But don’t take our word for it.

Three Area Individuals Sentenced for Federal Supervised Release Violations

The Gilmer Free Press

•  James DEAN, age 57, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for unlawful possession and use of cocaine and excessive use of alcohol.

DEAN was originally sentenced on August 21, 2006, to 155 months in prison and four years of supervised release for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.

In March of 2009, DEAN’s sentence was reduced to 125 months in prison pursuant to the crack resentencing guidelines and in October of 2011, DEAN’s sentence was again reduced to 88 months pursuant to the crack resentencing guidelines.

DEAN was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

•  Chasty ANDERSON, age 24, of Clarksburg, WV was sentenced to 8 months in prison and 28 months of supervised release for commission of the new crime of DWI and possession and use of hydrocodone and oxycodone.

ANDERSON was originally sentenced on October 07, 2011, to 12 months and 1 day in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession of a stolen firearm.

ANDERSON was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

•  John William PICKENS of Braxton County, West Virginia, was sentenced to 8 months in prison for unlawful possession and use of marijuana and commission of the new offense in state court of marijuana possession.

PICKENS was originally sentenced on November 02, 2007, to 55 months in prison and three years of supervised release for felon in possession of a firearm.

PICKENS was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 04.02.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, April 02, 2014 Family Court Judge Larry Whited heard several cases in Gilmer County.

•  Three cases will have orders drafted by the Child Advocate Bureau so no disposition is available on them at this time.

•  Temporary orders were entered in 2 cases, one contempt petition was dismissed for failure to appear.

•  One marriage was performed between Adeana Cottrill and Curtis Carr.

•  Earlier one divorce was received in the mail, granted by Family Court Judge wherein Lorrie McCune (44) of Glenville, WV divorced Benny McCune (43) of Glenville. WV.


The Gilmer Free Press

Fast Auto Loans, Virginia Auto Loans have agreed to erase any debt currently owed by
West Virginia residents, pay $450,000, and end objectionable debt collection practices in the state.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today announced that the Office of the Attorney General reached an approximately $1.2 million settlement in Jefferson County Circuit Court with Fast Auto Loans Inc. and Virginia Auto Loans Inc.

As part of the settlement, the two title loan companies agreed to close all accounts and zero-balance any debt owed by West Virginia-based consumers within 60 days. In addition, the loan companies agreed to return any vehicles that were seized from West Virginia consumers that have not yet been sold and remove any and all liens on vehicle titles.

The companies agreed to cancel approximately $816,000 in consumer debt and to pay $450,000 to the state, of which approximately $150,000 will be used as consumer restitution. The remaining money will be able to be used by the Office of the Attorney General for consumer protection activities, be held for appropriation by the Legislature, or be returned to the taxpayers and/or consumers.

“Our Office is pleased with this settlement in that it will help many hundreds of West Virginia consumers in the Eastern Panhandle, as well as the southern region of the state,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “While title loans are not legal in West Virginia, some citizens opt to go across state lines to obtain them. However, consumers should be cautious about getting these loans, no matter how cash-strapped they may be, because of the high interest rates and the very real danger of losing their cars.”

A title loan is a high-interest, short-term loan or cash advance secured by the title to the consumer’s vehicle. If the consumer defaults on the loan, the lender may seize the vehicle. The loans often carried annual percentage rates of anywhere from 120% to 300%.

The State sued Fast Auto Loans and Virginia Auto Loans in 2012 alleging the companies engaged in conduct that violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The suit alleged, among other things, that the companies abused and harassed consumers by calling them at home and/or work, and disclosed, without any legal justification, the consumers’ debts to people listed as references. The suit also alleged that consumers were coerced into relinquishing possession of their vehicles by false threats of arrest and criminal prosecution. Fast Auto Loans and Virginia Auto Loans seized about 218 cars from West Virginia residents, according to records the companies provided to the Attorney General’s Office.

In the settlement, the companies did not admit to any wrongdoing and denied they engaged in the alleged conduct.

“While consumers should always try to pay what they owe, collectors also must abide by the law and treat citizens with respect,” Morrisey said. “Lenders cannot harass or threaten people in order to recoup money that is owed. We will always stand strong to protect West Virginians from collection abuse.”

The Attorney General’s Office will receive a report within the next 60 days from Fast Auto Loans and Virginia Auto Loans showing how much consumer debt was canceled as a result of this settlement, how many vehicles were returned, and how many title liens were removed from vehicles.

The settlement is contained in an Agreed Final Order approved by Judge David Sanders of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. The case number is 12-C-231.

Federal Court Report - 04.07.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Before Judge Keeley, Michael John Luther GRIFFIN, age 34, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for “Distribution of Heroin.”  GRIFFIN’s sentence was increased by the Court due to violations of his pretrial release.  GRIFFIN was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn A. Morgan and investigated by the Greater Harrison County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

Jovan MANNING, age 36 and formerly an inmate at FCI Gilmer, entered pleas of guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, to run consecutive to his current 228-month sentence, for “Conspiracy to Commit Bribery of a Public Official” and “Bribery of a Public Official.”  MANNING admitted to conspiring with a correctional officer at FCI Gilmer and another inmate to smuggle tobacco into the prison on multiple occasions.  The correctional officer provided the tobacco to MANNING and the other inmate in exchange for having contacts on the outside of the prison send money totaling approximately $40,000.  MANNING received money from other inmates when he sold the tobacco in the prison.  This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General.

MICHAEL J. WHITE, age 45, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, was sentenced to 5 years probation and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $23,795 to the Veterans Administration Medical Center for “Stealing Public Money.” This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert H. McWilliams, Jr. and investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division.

DONNA IRONS, age 37, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, entered a plea of guilty to “Distribution of Marijuana.”  IRONS, who is free on bond pending sentencing, faces up to 5 years in prison.  This case was investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Cogar and investigated by the Greater Harrison County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

MARLENA MAE LONG, age 49, of Sutton, West Virginia, entered a plea of guilty to “Theft of Mail by a Postal Employee.” LONG, who is free on bond pending sentencing, faces up to 5 years in prison.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Stein and investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Weston: Sharpe Hospital Employee Wins the Case against Him

The Gilmer Free Press

Barring a reversal upon appeal the courts, Ronald Lee Morris of Weston will be returning to work at William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital.

Last week West Virginia Administrative Law Judge William B. McGinley ruled in favor of Morris at a level three grievance hearing and ordered his reinstatement as an employee at Sharpe Hospital with back pay and restoration of benefits.

Morris, an employee of the hospital’ with 19 years of service, was terminated by the hospital on January 08, 2013 for allegedly threatening to bring a gun to work and to shoot other employees.

He was also arrested and charged with making terroristic threats, but was acquitted by a Lewis County jury of that charge.

On January 01, 2013, Morris was accused of making the threats by two other Sharpe employees.

In making his ruling, McGinley wrote that the termination of Morris was, “based upon the allegations that two employees made that Morris threatened to bring a gun to work and kill people. Since their testimony is not credible, Sharpe Hospital and the DHHR failed to prove that Morris made that threat.”

In the synopsis of his findings, Judge McGinley indicated that the testimony of the two accusers was often inconsistent, contradictory and was not credible.

At the grievance hearing it was the responsibility of Sharpe Hospital and the DHHR to establish the charges against Morris by a preponderance of evidence. McGinley ruled that they failed to do so.

Other employees in the room, when the alleged threat was made also testified that they did not hear Morris make such a threat. It was Morris’ contention all along that what he said was misconstrued. He had a grievance against the hospital pending, and claimed that what he said was, “I’ve got a level three hearing coming up and I can’t wait for the big guns to come up from Charleston and clean house.‘’ He said that he was referring to the need for management at Sharpe Hospital to be replaced.

This is not the first time Sharpe Hospital has been ordered to reinstate Morris. The hospital fired Morris in April of 2010 for alleged patient, abuse.

In December of 2010, Administrative Law Judge Ronald L. Reece ordered that Morris be reinstated to his job for much the same reasoning offered by McGinley.

Sharpe Hospital and the DHHR, he wrote, failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence that any physical abuse occurred. Once again hospital administrators relied on the testimony of one employee who Morris and other argued was not even in the position to see if any abuse occurred. Other witnesses said they saw no abuse. In the 2010 case, Morris acknowledged that he may have used a loud tone of voice but denied that any physical abuse took place. Reece did uphold a ten day suspension of Morris without pay for verbal abuse.

Morris has maintained that the hospital administration has been out to get him since winning the grievance he filed back in 2010, at times accusing hospital supervisors of harassment.

~~  Weston Democrat - April 02, 2014 ~~

Calhoun Board and State School Board Sued for Removing Spring Break

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

Two local board of educations face lawsuits for allegedly removing the spring break from the school calendar.

Christina Jones and Norma Myers both filed lawsuits March 10 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the West Virginia State Board of Education and Calhoun County Board of Education, citing violation of statute and detrimental reliance.

The complaint states both are employed by the Calhoun County Board of Education (Myers’ complaint says she is a teacher) and on February 27, Calhoun County Board of Education cancelled the spring break it had scheduled for March 17-21. The plaintiffs said they and other Board of Education employees will sustain hardship and economic loss as a result of the sudden change in the school calendar, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction preventing the defendants from removing the spring break, any monetary damages and fees.

Both are being represented by Andrew J. Katz of The Katz Working Families Law Firm LC.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers 14-C-501 (Jones) and 14-C-502 (Myers).

~~  Whitney Brakken - WV Record ~~

U.S. Supreme Court Voids Overall Contribution Limits

The Gilmer Free Press

The Supreme Court struck down limits Wednesday in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

The justices said in a 5-4 vote that Americans have a right to give the legal maximum to candidates for Congress and president, as well as to parties and PACs, without worrying that they will violate the law when they bump up against a limit on all contributions, set at $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. That includes a separate $48,600 cap on contributions to candidates.

The decision will allow the wealthiest contributors to pour millions of dollars into candidate and party coffers, although those contributions will be subject to disclosure under federal law. Big donors already can spend unlimited amounts on attacks ads and other outlets that have played an increasingly important role in campaigns.

But the court’s decision does not undermine limits on individual contributions to candidates for president or Congress, now $2,600 an election.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the decision, which split the court’s liberal and conservative justices. Roberts said the aggregate limits do not act to prevent corruption, the rationale the court has upheld as justifying contribution limits.

The overall limits “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise ‘the most fundamental First Amendment activities,‘“ Roberts said, quoting from the court’s seminal 1976 campaign finance ruling in Buckley v. Valeo.

Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome of the case, but wrote separately to say that he would have gone further and wiped away all contribution limits.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the liberal dissenters, said that the court’s conservatives had “eviscerated our nation’s campaign finance laws” through Wednesday’s ruling and 2010 decision in Citizens United that lifted limits on independent spending by corporations and labor unions.

“If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision we fear will open a floodgate,“ Breyer said in comments from the bench. “It understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institution. It creates, we think, a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign.“

Congress enacted the limits in the wake of Watergate-era abuses to discourage big contributors from trying to buy votes with their donations and to restore public confidence in the campaign finance system.

But in a series of rulings in recent years, the Roberts court has struck down provisions of federal law aimed at limiting the influence of big donors as unconstitutional curbs on free speech rights.

Most notably, in 2010, the court divided 5 to 4 in the Citizens United case to free corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they wish on campaign advocacy, as long as it is independent of candidates and their campaigns. That decision did not affect contribution limits to individual candidates, political parties and political action committees.

Republican activist Shaun McCutcheon of Hoover, Ala., the national Republican party and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky challenged the overall limits on what contributors may give in a two-year federal election cycle. The total is $123,200, including a separate $48,600 cap on contributions to candidates, for 2013 and 2014.

Limits on individual contributions, currently $2,600 per election to candidates for Congress, are not at issue.

Relaxed campaign finance rules have reduced the influence of political parties, McConnell and the GOP argued.

McCutcheon gave the symbolically significant $1,776 to 15 candidates for Congress and wanted to give the same amount to 12 others. But doing so would have put him in violation of the cap.

Nearly 650 donors contributed the maximum amount to candidates, PACs and parties in the last election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The court did not heed warnings from Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. and advocates of campaign finance limits that donors would be able to funnel large amounts of money to a favored candidate in the absence of the overall limit.

The Republicans also called on the court to abandon its practice over nearly 40 years of evaluating limits on contributions less skeptically than restrictions on spending.

The differing levels of scrutiny have allowed the court to uphold most contribution limits, because of the potential for corruption in large direct donations to candidates. At the same time, the court has found that independent spending does not pose the same risk of corruption and has applied a higher level of scrutiny to laws that seek to limit spending.

If the court were to drop the distinction between contributions and expenditures, even limits on contributions to individual candidates for Congress, currently $2,600 per election, would be threatened, said Fred Wertheimer, a longtime supporter of stringent campaign finance laws.

The case is McCutcheon v. FEC, 12-536.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 03.26.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014 Family Court Judge Larry Whited made 2 trips to Glenville to hear family court matters.

•  One divorce was dismissed.

•  One wedding was cancelled.

After returning to Calhoun County the Judge discovered that one case had been left off his docket so he returned and heard it.

•  At the hearing on a modification he appointed a guardian ad litem in the matter and it will be rescheduled.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 03.27.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Monday, March 24, 2014 Judge Facemire completed more than 3 pages of docket, including 16 juveniles and was finished before Noon.

•  Several juveniles were reset for Wednesday, July 09, 2014 with four being set for 10:00 AM, three for 10:10 AM and two for 10:15 AM; one for Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 9:00 AM, one for 10:00 AM and another for 10:10 AM on Monday, April 28, 2014; Monday, June 23, 2014 at 9:10 AM and four others being dismissed and stricken from the docket of the Court.

Three sentencing hearings were set and disposed of as follows:

•  State of West Virginia vs. Austin Biro

He was represented by Garth Beck of Clarksburg was sentenced to 1-5 years in the state penitentiary, with his sentence being suspended and he was placed on 5 years’ probation.

He must pay court costs and $1200.00 restitution, must perform 200 hours of community service per year of probation, must obtain full time employment and his probation was transferred to the state of Ohio.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Conner Smith

He was sentenced to 2-10 years in the penitentiary, with his sentence being suspended and he was placed on 5 years’ probation and ordered to do 200 hours of community service per year of probation.

He must pay court costs within 18 months and must go to outpatient substance abuse center and obtain full time employment.

The Judge also stressed to Smith that he was one of probably 3 defendants with a conviction of attempting to operate a clandestine drug lab that he had placed on probation.

Smith thanked the Judge, but later failed his urine screen and Judge Facemire put him in jail (with no bond) until he can deal with him at a later date.

Smith was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Judy Gillespie

She was before the Court for sentencing and Judge Facemire ordered her to self-report to Lakin Correctional Center for 60 day diagnosis and classification and reset her sentencing for Monday, June 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

Gillespie was represented by Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Joshua Clark

He was before the Court on a bound over charge from magistrate court charging him with manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana).

He was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.

Prosecuting attorney Gerald Hough moved to dismiss the charges against Clark, which Judge Facemire questioned.

Hough stated that defendant would enter a plea to possession of more than 15 grams.

However, Judge Facemire declined to dismiss the charges pending against Clark and ordered Hough to negotiate a plea bargain agreement and reset the matter for further hearing.

He also ordered Clark to be drug tested, which he later failed.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Marquis T. Nedd

He was before the Court with Nedd asking for expungement of charges.

Judge Facemire directed the prosecutor to do a CIB check on Nedd and to get the magistrate records for him to read and took the matter under advisement.

•  On Thursday, March 27, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop returned to Glenville to hear a magistrate civil appeal between Marlea Cottrill vs. Richard Neal.

After hearing the matter, Judge Alsop dismissed the case.

Judge Alsop will return to Gilmer County on April 08, 2014 for a civil trial.

WV to Get Nearly $700,000 in e-Book Settlement

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia consumers who might have overpaid for e-books will receive nearly $700,000 from the partial settlement of a national lawsuit.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office announced the refunds are being paid out to consumers who purchased electronic books from some publishers from April 2010 to May 2012.

The refunds are in the form of account credits, coupons or checks.

The lawsuit was filed by 33 states against Apple Inc. and five of the nation’s six largest e-book publishers. The publishers settled claims against them for a total payment of $166 million.

Apple is battling claims in district court that it violated antitrust laws.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 03.20.14

The Gilmer Free Press

•  On Tuesday, March 18, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop heard 2 juvenile matters and scheduled them for further hearings on Wednesday, April 09, 2014 at 2:30 PM and Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

On Thursday, March 20, 2014 Judge Alsop returned to Gilmer County and took up several matters.

•  First he addressed the jurors who had failed to appear for petit jury duty on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

Four of them were nonresidents and had never received their questionnaires, nor had the post office returned them to the Circuit Clerk.

Yet when the Sheriff attempted to serve them it was clear they were no longer living in Gilmer County.

One was served by the Sheriff (William Dennison) and he appeared with his questionnaire filled out and will serve during the remainder of the March term.

Benjamin Wood appeared and revealed he had just recently moved to Nicholas County (without notifying the Court). However, he is not eligible to serve anymore. Judge Alsop informed him he should have notified the Court earlier, but did not fine him for his error.

Alice Hamric appeared and the Clerk apologized to her for not noting she was over 70, as well as having a medical condition that prevented her from serving. Judge Alsop released her from service.

The remaining jurors, Kay Chico, Brian Connaughton, Edward Durham and Kenneth Raulston Jr. explained to the Court why they had failed to appear, and again Alsop did not hold any of them in contempt nor order them to pay a fine, but demanded they follow the instructions in the letter given to them by the Clerk for further service.

Two arraignments were heard:

•  State of West Virginia vs. Kimberly A. Demastus

She appeared represented by her attorney, Mark Hudnall of Summersville and asked for her case to be continued to the July term of Court.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Daniel John McCormick appeared with his attorney, Jeff Davis and his case was also continued to the July term.

WV Governor’s Brother Carl Tomblin Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge

The Gilmer Free Press

The brother of West Virginia’s governor faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal drug charge.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says 50-year-old Carl Tomblin of Chapmanville pleaded guilty Tuesday to distribution of oxymorphone.

Tomblin’s sentencing is set for June 25, 2014.

Goodwin says Tomblin sold the prescription painkiller to a confidential informant on five occasions in December 2013.

Tomblin is the brother of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.When Carl Tomblin was charged in February, the governor said his brother was dealing with drug addiction and needed help, but must be held accountable for his actions.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 03.14.14

The Gilmer Free Press

•  On Wednesday, March 12, 2014 the trial between State of West Virginia vs. Robert Lee Hacker began in Circuit Court with Chief Judge Jack Alsop presiding.

Opening statements began at 1:40 PM with testimony beginning about 2:00 PM.

The trial recessed for the day at 3:58 AM and reconvened at 9:00 AM on Thursday, March 13, 2014.

After presenting 3 witnesses in 2 days the state rested at 10:27 AM and at 11:05 AM the defense rested.

The Court read the lengthy charge to the jury and concluded at nearly 1:00 PM whereupon the jury went to lunch with directions to return to the Court room at 2:00 PM.

At 2:00 PM closing arguments began and at approximately 2:30 PM the jury went to their room to deliberate upon a verdict and returned to the Court room at 4:17 PM and returned a guilty verdict on all 63 counts, namely:

4 counts of 2nd degree sexual assault

7 counts of 1st degree sexual abuse

50 counts of sexual abuse by parent, guardian or custodian or person in position of trust

1 count of providing alcohol to a minor

1 count of harassing ‘phone calls’

Hacker was represented by co-counsel Steve Manners and Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon. Sentencing will be April 14th at 10:30.

•  On Friday, March 14, 2014 the trial of Rodney Singleton began at 10:12 AM with testimony of 4 witnesses called by the state.

Two witnesses were called on behalf of the defense, namely defendant and his father, Donald Singleton.

At 11:28 AM the Judge sent the jury to lunch to return to the Courtroom at 1:00 PM.

Beginning at 1:20 PM Judge Alsop read the charge to the jury and at 1:50 PM closing arguments began and ended at 2:00 PM.

After a question by the jury at 2:10 PM they began to deliberate upon a verdict and returned to the Court room at 3:25 PM with the verdict, as follows:

Guilty of 3rd offense domestic battery as charged in count 1

Guilty of battery a lesser included offense charged in count 2.

Not guilty to count 3 and 4 of the indictment, namely 2 counts of wanton endangerment involving a firearm.

Sentencing will be at 11:00 AM Monday, April 14, 2014 and Jerome Novobilski of Clay represented defendant in this trial.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 03.12.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Family Court Judge Larry Whited appeard in Gilmer county Family Court on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

He heard 5 cases.

•  He performed a marriage between Carrie Cole and Craig Randolph.

•  One case was dismissed.

•  One case was sent to mediation.

•  One divorce was granted between Deanna Frederick (34) of Glenville, WV and Joseph Frederick (30) of Duck, WV.

•  Another case had a parenting plan and property agreement filed.

•  Another case was referred to another Court for further proceedings.

Calhoun School Workers Sue Over Spring Break Loss

The Gilmer Free Press

Three Calhoun County school employees have gone to court over the county Board of Education’s decision to cancel spring break.

The Charleston Gazette reports that each employee filed a lawsuit Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against the county board and the state Board of Education.

On February 27, 2014 the county board changed the week of March 17-March 21 from out of calendar days to instructional days. Out of calendar days are uncompensated days off.

The lawsuits say the employees had made travel plans.

They did not learn that the state board approved the change until March 05, 2014.

Like other West Virginia counties, Calhoun County has lost instructional days this winter because of harsh weather.

WV State Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares says the change was designed to benefit students.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 03.06.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Chief Judge Jack Alsop presided over Circuit Court in Gilmer County on Thursday, March 06, 2014.

•  One fugitive from justice waived extradition back to the state of Louisiana and authorities there have until 4:00 PM Monday, March 17, 2014 to pick William R. Mitchell up at the Central Regional Jail or he will be released.

Mitchell was represented by local attorney Shelly DeMarino.

After Sheriff Larry Gerwig called a list of defendants names 3 times in open court and they failed to appear, Judge Alsop directed that the capias’ previously issued remain in full force and effect against the following individuals:

•  Brandon M. Leady

•  William Davis McHenry

•  Erin Jason DeWall

•  Matthew Snyder

•  Jaimey Gaines

•  Jack E. Crawford

•  Thomas Rusley

•  Bernard Johnson

•  Robert Baskin

•  Christina Gayle Coombs

•  Sandra Frick

•  Edward C. Thompson Jr.

•  Darrell J. Ford

•  Travis M. Buford

•  Justice Graham

•  Kevin Neil Garrett

•  Justin Derek Antoine

•  Justin Miller

•  Gary Terreal Shivers

•  Joseph M. Stankiewitch

•  Joshua C. Whitely

•  Jarod C. Scott

Any law enforcement agency is directed to detain said individuals and hold them for further proceedings if they are found.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Robert Lee Hacker

He was before the Court for further pretrial motions.

Hacker is represented by Steve Nanners and Bryan Hinkle, co-counsel both from Buckhannon.

His trial is set for Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Rodney G. Singleton

He was also before the Court with his attorney, Jerome Novobilski from Clay County.

His trial is also set for Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Ricky L. Townsend

He was before the Court represented by Bryan Hinkle.

After testimony was taken in his case Judge Alsop revoked his bond and his case is set for plea on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 10:30 AM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. James Lee Ash

He was before the Court, without his attorney, Clinton Bischoff, whom the Clerk unsuccessfully attempted to contact.

Ash will enter a plea on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 1:30 PM.

•  An old fugitive from justice case was before the Court involving Kenneth R. Fraker, who was wanted in the state of Ohio and Ritchie County, WV also has charges against him.

Judge Alsop will dismiss our case by order.

Fraker was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton, WV.

•  Attorney Karickhoff also had the case of State of West Virginia vs. William Clavel Smith called for arraignment on this date.

Arraignments are currently scheduled for 9:00 AM Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

However, Smith was arraigned on this date and entered a plea of not guilty to the charge against him.

His case was then continued to the July 2014 term of Circuit Court upon motion of the defendant.

•  A juvenile matter was also heard and set for further hearing on Wednesday, April 09, 2014 at 1:00 PM.

Judge Alsop scheduled to return to Gilmer County on Monday, March 10, 2014 for his motion day, arraignments and other matter on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 and petit jury will commence on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

Northern District of West Virginia Federal Court Report - 03.10.14

The Gilmer Free Press

A commercial airline pilot has been indicted on charges of traveling across state lines in order to have sex with a minor female.

•  MUSTAFA M. BAZBAZ, age 28, of Oakdale, Pennsylvania was named in a two-count Indictment charging him with “Travel with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct” and “Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity.”

BAZBAZ allegedly began communicating with a 15-year old female from Jefferson County, Ohio, in December of 2013 via the website known as

BAZBAZ is alleged to have misrepresented his age and name to the victim, claiming to be 17 years old and to be named “Mike B.”

It also alleged that BAZBAZ sent sexually explicit images of himself to the victim before arranging to pick up the victim near her home in Jefferson County in December of 2013.

The criminal complaint asserts that BAZBAZ then took the victim to a hotel room in Hancock County where he engaged in sexual intercourse with her.

If convicted, BAZBAZ faces up to forty years in prison.

This case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert H. McWilliams, Jr. and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hancock County (WV) Sheriff’s Department.

In other matters considered by the Clarksburg Grand Jury, Ihlenfeld announced that CLAUDE JONES a/k/a “MIKE JONES,” age 29 and DESEAN LAMARR AARON, age 24, of Fairmont, West Virginia, were named in an eight-count Indictment charging them with “Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Crack Cocaine, Cocaine HCL and Heroin.”

JONES faces an additional six counts and AARON faces an additional two counts for the distribution of the controlled substances.

The defendants each face up to twenty years in prison on each count.

The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zelda E. Wesley and was investigated by the Three Rivers Drug Task Force.

ROBERT DALE TASKER, age 43, an inmate at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington, West Virginia, was named in a four-count Indictment charging him with three counts of “Threats Against the President,” and one count of “Threats Against Family Members of the President.”

TASKER faces up to five years in prison on each count.

This case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Bernard and was investigated by the United States Secret Service.

GARY ALLEN STEWART, age 31, of Sutton, West Virginia, was named in a four-count Indictment charging him with “Obstruction of Correspondence.“

STEWART faces up to five years in prison on each count.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Office of Inspector General, and will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Stein.

ANTHONY SCOTT MOATS, age 39, of Lost Creek, West Virginia, was charged with being a “Felon in Possession of a Firearm.”

MOATS, who has prior felony convictions for burglary, drug distribution, and bank theft, is alleged to have possessed a firearm in September of 2013 in Monongalia County.

MOATS faces up to fifteen years in prison if convicted.

This case will be prosecuted by Wesley and was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Court Rules Against School Students Wearing American Flag


Forty-five years ago last month, the U.S. Supreme Court reached a landmark decision on the First Amendment.  In Tinker v. Des Moines School District, the high court determined that public school students do not “shed their Constitutional rights when they enter the schoolhouse door.”

The court said that the Iowa school that young John Tinker attended was wrong when it disciplined Tinker and several of his friends for wearing black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War.  They were exercising their First Amendment free speech rights.

With that background, consider the ruling by a federal appeals court in California last week on a First Amendment case.  The judges ruled in favor of Live Oak High School near San Jose in its decision to tell several students not to wear American flags on their T-shirts.

Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez ordered the students to change their shirts or go home because he said they increased racial tensions during a school-sanctioned celebration of Cinco de Mayo by Mexican students.  The appeals court determined that the assistant principal was trying to avert violence, not tamp down speech.

The school has a history of racial disturbances.  At the Cinco de Mayo school celebration the year before, a Mexican student had shouted at flag-wearing white students, “F*** the white boys… let’s f*** them up.”

Historically, the courts have found that First Amendment rights are somewhat more limited in public schools because of the need of school administrators to prevent violence and fulfill their obligation of educating students.  However, the right of free speech is a high standard.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, writing in USA TODAY, accuses the appeals court of violating the rights of the flag-wearing students.

“When presented with the threats of violence, the school should punish those who engage in harassing or violent acts,” Turley wrote.  “Removing any display of the flag in the face of violence is akin to removing gay students to avoid harassment or girls to avoid sexual assaults.”

We’re on shaky ground in this country when a display of the American flag is considered incendiary and disrespectful.  But more importantly, we’re shortchanging public school students when we teach them through our actions that the First Amendment is a matter of convenience, not a Constitutional right.

Richie County Teacher’s Case Turned Over to Grand Jury

The Gilmer Free Press

The Ritchie County teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student faced a judge Thursday, March 05, 2014.

West Virginia State Police arrested Pete Weekley last week, then arrested him again when another student came forward.

The only testimony involved the second person to come forward - a 19-year-old special education student who gave specific details of the incident involving Pete Weekley from last May.

He said the incident happened while the class was watching a movie, Weekley asked him to come to his desk.

There, he says, the special education teacher fondled him and performed oral sex on him.

Both cases were bound over to the Ritchie County grand jury.

Weekley’s attorney argued against probable cause being found, saying the student could not remember some elements of the case, including the exact date of the incident.

She also argued Weekley allowed the student to walk away without trying to stop or threaten him after the alleged acts.

The next meeting of the Ritchie County grand jury is June 03, 2014.

Webster County Woman Found Guilty of Murder, Serving Life Sentence

The Gilmer Free Press

A Webster County woman has been convicted for the second time in the 2009 shooting death of her husband.

A Braxton County jury convicted Julia Surbaugh of Webster Springs, WV Thursday night on a charge of first degree murder without mercy.

Surbaugh was originally tried and convicted in 2009 but the Supreme Court threw out the verdict in 2012 and ordered a new trial.

The second trial was moved to Braxton County and lasted for 10 days until the jury returned the guilty verdict Thursday night.

Surbaugh was immediately sentenced by Circuit Judge Richard Facemire to spend the rest of her life in prison with no chance for parole.

C-GCC: NEW High School Equivalency Test

The Gilmer Free Press

A new high school equivalency test will be offered in Gilmer and Calhoun counties.

Due to Spring Break,  classes will be available in March according to the following schedule ONLY.

March 04,05,06,10,11,12,27,28: Calhoun County classes will be held at the Career Center from 12:00 Noon to 3:30 PM.

March 04,06,10,11,27,28: Gilmer County classes will be held at St. Marks Church from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.

The test will continue to be free, but candidates will still have to pass a practice test prior to test enrollment.

Please call 304.354.6151 Extension 106 for more information.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 03.04.14

The Gilmer Free Press

The March, 2014 term of The Gilmer County Circuit Court began on Tuesday, March 04, 2014 with Chief Judge Jack Alsop instructing the Grand Jury.

•  After the grand jurors went to the jury room at 9:55 AM to consider their indictments, Judge Alsop called several civil matters for status hearings.

At 11:53 AM the grand jurors returned to the Court room and returned indictments against 8 individuals for the following charges:

•  State of West Virginia vs. David C. Wise

He was indicted for 2 counts of failure to provide sexual offender registration.

His attorney is Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Kimberly A. Demastus

She was indicted for 5 counts of delivery of a controlled substance, namely, amphetamine, hydrocodone and 3 counts of delivery of oxycodone.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Isaac Charles Grounds

He was indicted for 2 felony counts, 1 of burglary and 1 of grand larceny.

He is represented by Kevin Hughart of Sissonville.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Daniel John McCormick

He was indicted for 1 count of conspiracy and 1 count of delivery of controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school.

•  State of West Virginia vs. William Clavel Smith

He was indicted for 1 count of possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance (marijuana).

He is represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Van Ross Ramsey Sr.

He was indicted for 6 counts, namely, malicious wounding, destruction of property, domestic battery, reckless driving and 2 counts of obscene phone calls.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Ginger Persinger

She was indicted for 3 counts of embezzlement.

She is represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Mose Allen Chadwell

He was indicted for 2 counts of obtaining goods under false pretences and 1 count of forgery and 1 count of uttering.

Chadwell is represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.

Status hearings were held in 17 civil cases, as follows:

•  One was settled and a FAX was received regarding the same.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Kenneth Fraker

He was reset for March 06, 2014 at 11:00 AM.

Dismissal to come in another case.

The Court will dismiss another case and plaintiff’s attorney has to re-file.

•  Another case reported the defendant was making payments and it will be dismissed upon receipt of their income tax.

•  The case of Lori Short vs. William Stalnaker had a scheduling order entered by Judge Alsop.

Pretrial is now 1:00 PM Friday, July 25, 2014 and bench trial 9:00 AM on Tuesday, August 05, 2014.

Short is represented by Ira Adams III of Clarksburg and Stalnaker is represented by Thomas Dyer also of Clarksburg.

•  Judge Alsop dismissed one civil case for no service.

•  The case of Time Payment Corp. vs. Deborah Yeager had a scheduling order entered by Judge Alsop.

Pretrial is now Friday, January 23, 2015 at 9 AM with trial set for Tuesday, February 10, 2015 also at 9 AM.

Richard McGervey represented the plaintiff and Daniel Cohn represents Yeager.

•  One case was continued due to lack of service, but will be dismissed after 120 days have expired if service is not obtained on defendant.

•  One civil case between Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital and Jason F. Cottrill was set for bench trial on Friday, June 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM and defendant has until Monday, March 10, 2014 to answer or default judgment will be entered and no trial will be necessary.

•  One case was completed in August but the order was unclear if it was over.

After today’s hearing the clerk completed the case and took it off the active docket.

•  In one case the plaintiff’s attorney will send a default judgment order and it will be completed.

•  The case of Julie Conrad vs. Gilmer County Senior Citizens will have a motion to dismiss heard before Judge Alsop on Monday, April 14, 2014 at 9:45 AM.

Discovery must be completed by Sunday, November 30, 2014 and a pretrial will be heard Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM and a jury trial will be held Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 9:00 AM unless the matter is resolved earlier.

Conrad is represented by Christina Rumbach and Gilmer County Senior Center is represented by Jan L. Fox with Steptoe and Johnson law firm.

•  Agreed default judgment was entered in another civil case and it was removed from the docket.

•  Another civil case has no service in it yet and the attorney is attempting to obtain a proper address for defendant.

•  A civil case between Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital and Joshua Singleton was set for bench trial Friday, June 13, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

Singleton has until Friday, March 07, 2014 to file his answer or judgment will be awarded against him.

•  The case of Van Ramsey Sr. vs. Van Ramsey II and Michelle Ramsey was set for bench trial Friday, June 13, 2014 at 1:00 PM.

Van Ramsey Sr. is represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway and defendants are self-represented.

West Virginia Supreme Court Suspends Ritchie County Lawyer for One Year

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has suspended a Ritchie County attorney’s law license for one year for conduct that “did not conform to the expectations of the profession.”


The state’s high court issued its 30-page opinion February 12 in Lawyer Disciplinary Board v. Ira M. Haught.

In its per curiam ruling, the court suspended Haught for one year rather than three, as recommended by a hearing panel subcommittee.

However, Haught will face additional sanctions, as set forth in the subcommittee’s report and recommendation, including:

* Upon successful reinstatement to the practice of law, he shall sign and follow a plan of supervised practice for a period of two years with a supervising attorney, consistent with the specifications set forth by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel;

* He shall complete an additional nine hours of Continuing Legal Education during the CLE time period he is reinstated in the area of ethics and office management, over and above that already required;

* He shall have a certified public accountant audit his office accounting records for two consecutive years following his reinstatement, consistent with the specifications set forth by the ODC; and

* He shall pay the costs of the proceedings.

The Gilmer Free Press
Ira M. Haught

The ruling stems from a two-count statement of charges filed by the board’s investigative panel.

“Although the record in this matter is voluminous, the essential facts favorable and unfavorable to Haught, in relation to the statement of charges, are straightforward,” the justices wrote.

The first count alleged violations of the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct with regard to a complaint filed by Gerald Heister, chairman of the board of National Rendezvous and Living History Foundation Inc., or NRLHF.

The second count alleged violations of the rules with regard to a complaint filed by Jack D. Wright and Wanda R. Wright.

In a written agreement dated April 30, 2008, Haught agreed to represent Linda B. Blizard and Richard E. Blizard Jr. in a contract dispute with NRLHF.

Linda Blizard, an independent contractor performing accounting, reporting and financial management services for NRLHF, claimed that the foundation wrongfully terminated her contract in 2007. Richard Blizard claimed that NRLHF wrongfully asserted a $1,300 debt against him.

Subsequent to Haught’s agreement to represent the Blizards, Linda Blizard allegedly withdrew, without authorization, money from a certificate of deposit owned by NRLHF.

The record includes a copy of a check dated June 27, 2008, drawn on WesBanco Bank Inc. and payable to NRLHF. The check, in the amount of $11,402.50, was endorsed in the name of Linda Blizard and with the NRLHF initials.

The record also includes a copy of a second check of the same date, drawn on WesBanco Bank Inc. and payable to Linda Blizard and Haught. The second check, also in the amount of $11,402.50, was endorsed on June 30, 2008 in the names of Linda Blizard and Haught.

In May 2010, Heister filed an ethics complaint against Haught. Heister had not learned of the alleged conversion of the certificate of deposit by Linda Blizard until after the action against NRLHF was settled.

Heister’s complaint alleged that Linda Blizard and Haught cashed the second check in the amount of $11,402.50 and that, “with the possible knowledge of Mr. Haught,” the money was to be used to pay the Blizards’ legal fees in the action against NRLHF.

Haught testified that, in June 2008, the Blizards brought $11,402.50 in cash to his office to hold, pending the Blizards’ litigation against NRLHF.

Denying that the money was for attorney fees, he indicated the Blizards brought the cash to his office in connection with Linda Blizard’s claim against NRLHF for unpaid compensation.

Haught testified before the investigative panel that he did not deposit the money in his Interest on Lawyer Trust Account, or IOLTA, maintained at Huntington National Bank. Such an account is designed for the safekeeping of client funds that are “expected to be held for a brief period.”

Instead, Haught said he kept the money in his office safe.

Haught later testified that when the action against NRLHF settled, he returned the money to the Blizards, and they paid an outstanding invoice for attorney fees in the amount of $4,340.

Following Haught’s sworn statement, the disciplinary counsel asked him to provide a receipt for the cash deposit by Linda Blizard in the amount of $11,402.50. On December14, 2010, Haught responded that, upon a review of his receipt books for the year 2008, he could not find a copy of a receipt written to Linda Blizard.

Thereafter, the disciplinary counsel obtained, by subpoena, a copy of the records of Haught’s IOLTA for the period May 2008 through September 2009. The bank records revealed that on June 30, 2008, Haught deposited $11,402.50 in his account.

The bank records also revealed that, much later, on Sept. 11, 2009, Haught wrote a check from his IOLTA to the Blizards in the amount of $7,062.50. Specifically, Haught’s invoice for attorney fees, upon the settlement of the action against NRLHF, indicates that $4,340 in fees were subtracted from the $11,402.50, leaving a $7,062.50 remainder for the Blizards.

“In Haught’s favor, the evidence does not show any participation by Haught in the alleged conversion by Linda Blizard of the NRLHF certificate of deposit or any evidence that the Blizards, or Haught, earmarked the disputed money simply to retain Haught or pay his attorney fees,” the state Supreme Court wrote in its ruling.

“In addition, the subcommittee asserted that Haught stated falsely that the issues surrounding the certificate of deposit, allegedly converted by Linda Blizard, had been resolved, in 2009, through the settlement and dismissal of the NRLHF litigation.

“The subcommittee’s assertion, however, is unpersuasive because, as part of the settlement of the NRLHF litigation, the Blizards were released from all past, present and future claims, known and unknown.”

Finally, the court wrote, nothing in the record supports the subcommittee’s conclusion that Haught violated Rule 8.4(b), which sets forth an ethics violation for the commission of a criminal act.

“Neither the statement of charges nor the subcommittee’s report and recommendation identified any criminal act allegedly committed by Haught, and the record contains no evidence of such a violation,” the justices wrote.

“Nevertheless, the evidence does not support Haught’s assertion that the Blizards instructed him to hold the $11,402.50 in cash in his office safe.”

Both Linda Blizard and Richard Blizard testified they did not recall telling Haught how to hold the money.

During a December 05, 2012, hearing, Linda Blizard stated she assumed Haught “would put it into safekeeping — in his escrow account, like other lawyers do.”

“In view of the testimony of Linda Blizard and Richard Blizard, the subcommittee’s conclusion is well-taken that there was no legitimate reason for the $11,402.50 to be converted to cash and kept in Haught’s office safe,” the court concluded. “In any event, if the money was held in the safe, its transfer back and forth between the Haught Family Trust and Blizard envelopes is disturbing.”

Meanwhile, the Wright complaint, filed against Haught in July 2010, alleged Haught prepared a deed for the couple, who were buying tracts of real property in Doddridge County.

According to the complaint, Haught mistakenly left out the mineral interests as part of the purchase.

The Wrights alleged they did not discover the omission until they attempted to update the county tax ticket, and their repeated attempts to speak with Haught were unsuccessful.

Subsequent evidence revealed that many of the calls the Wrights made to Haught’s office were never returned.

The complaint alleged that it was not until May 13, 2010, after Wanda Wright threatened to file an ethics complaint, that Haught provided the Wrights with a copy of a corrective deed — which the seller, L.L. Tonkin, has never signed.

The Wrights’ complaint also alleged that Haught continued to be unresponsive to their inquiries.

“As Haught correctly states, he is not charged in this matter with violating the Rules of Professional Conduct with regard to the disputed mineral interests. Rather, the statement of charges filed by the investigative panel alleges that Haught engaged in untruths in an effort to avoid detection of who his client was,” the justices wrote.

However, nothing in the record indicates that Haught ever told the Wrights that he was not representing them, the court noted.

“In this matter, this court is of the opinion that the conclusion of the hearing panel subcommittee, that an attorney-client relationship existed between Haught and the Wrights should not be disturbed,” it wrote.

This isn’t the first time Haught has been in hot water over his “lack of diligence.”

~~Jessica M. Karmasek - WV Record ~~

WV Record: Clay County Man Says He Was Injured by Chainsaw at Work

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

A Clay County resident is suing over claims he was seriously injured by a chainsaw.

ChainsawPhillip Stone filed a lawsuit February 18 in Clay Circuit Court against Atlas Railroad Construction LLC, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. and Consol Energy, citing deliberate intent and unsafe workplace.

Stone states on January 11, 2013, he was employed by Atlas Railroad Construction to perform work on Consol Energy property. While using a chainsaw to clear debris, the chainsaw came into contact with the plaintiff’s left knee, causing serious injuries, according to the complaint.

The plaintiff contends the defendants were negligent for failing to provide proper training, failing to perform a job safety analysis, failing to provide proper personal protective equipment, failing to provide supervision and failing to perform a personal protective equipment hazard assessment.

Stone is seeking an undisclosed amount of damages, including costs and fees.

The plaintiff is being represented in the case by Charleston attorneys Brett J. Preston and Dan R. Snuffer of Preston & Salango PLLC.

Clay Circuit Court case number 14-C-8

~~  Whitney Brakken ~~

Ritchie County High School Teacher Charged with Sexual Abuse and Assault

The Gilmer Free Press

A special education teacher at Ritchie County High School is facing sexual assault and abuse charges involving a student.

West Virginia State Police arrested David P. Weekley, age 43, of Pennsboro, Ritchie County, WV on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 and charged him with second degree sexual assault, first degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual abuse by a parent or custodian.

Earlier this month, troopers said a male student at Ritchie County High School alleged he had been abused in a closet of the school last December and in an unoccupied room of the school this month.

Weekley was able to post $100,000 bond after his arraignment Wednesday in Ritchie County Magistrate Court.


Ritchie County School Superintendent Edward T. Toman has made the following statement:

“Administration is aware of the recent arrest and serious allegations concerning a professional employee of the Ritchie County Board of Education. Appropriate personnel action will be taken, and it is anticipated that I will make an initial personnel recommendation to the Board on March 10th. Because this matter involves personnel, I am unable to make any further comments. I will say, that both as the Superintendent and father of a child in our school system, we make every effort to keep our students safe from harm. I can assure you that the allegations will continue to be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken.“

Governor Tomblin’s Brother Faces Drug Charge

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s brother is facing a federal drug distribution charge.

A federal information charges 50-year-old Carl Tomblin of Chapmanville, WV with illegally distributing oxymorphone, a prescription painkiller, on December 06, 2013, at or near Chapmanville.

The governor said Wednesday in a statement that he’s saddened and disappointed but he loves his brother.

He says his brother needs help and must be held accountable for his actions.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says in a news release that the charge stems from an investigation by the U.S. 119 Task Force and the West Virginia State Police.

GFP - 02.27.2014
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Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 02.24.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, February 19, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop heard cases in Gilmer County.

•  Two fugitives from justice, both from the state of Virginia, namely Alvin Simmons and Ditmar Becton, waived extradition.

Both were represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston and authorities in Virginia have until 4:00 PM on Friday, February 28, 2014 to pick up the 2 at Central Regional Jail or they will be released.

•  One juvenile was heard and rescheduled for Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM.

•  Monday, February 24, 2014 motion day of Judge Richard A. Facemire was rescheduled for Wednesday, March 05, 2014 due to his being in a jury trial in Braxton County.

•  Chief Judge Jack Alsop appeared on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM and heard a civil pre-trial between DC Petroleum Inc. vs. Christopher Haymond.

Plaintiffs are represented by co-counsel James C. West Jr. of the firm of West & Jones from Clarksburg and R. Terry Butcher of Glenville.

Defendants are represented by Paul Marteney of St. Marys.

The trial of that case is now set for 9:00 AM, Tuesday, April 08, 2014.

•  Represented by Shelly DeMarino, Steven Lindsey, a fugitive from justice from Ohio waived to return to that state.

Authorities there have until 4:00 PM, Wednesday, March 05, 2014 to pick Lindsey up or Central Regional Jail will release him.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 02.19.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Family Court Judge Larry Whited conducted Family Court in Gilmer County on Wednesday, February 19, 2014.

•  One divorce was granted with Angela Lea Blizzard (43) of Glenville divorcing Roger William Blizzard (53) of Troy, WV.

•  Two divorces were continued.

•  One domestic violence petition was withdrawn and terminated.

G-otcha™: Barbour County Sheriff Pleads Guilty, and Resigns

The Gilmer Free Press

The Barbour County Sheriff admitted to insurance fraud on Thursday in federal court and resigned his position as the chief law enforcement officer in the county.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II announced that JOHN W. HAWKINS, 47 years of age, of Philipi, West Virginia, entered a guilty plea to a felony Information charging him with “Mail Fraud.”  HAWKINS admitted to staging an automobile accident in April of 2013 and then, with the assistance of one his deputies, fabricating a report for submission to Nationwide Insurance Company so that his claim would be approved.  HAWKINS asserted that while driving his 2004 GMC Envoy he accidentally drove off Jerusalem Church Road in Philipi and ran into a tree.  However, a review of the claim file revealed inconsistencies in HAWKINS’ story.  Photographs taken by the insurance adjuster and information from the vehicle’s data recorder contradicted HAWKINS’ version of events.  Witnesses familiar with the scheme advised investigators that the story provided by HAWKINS was false.

HAWKINS used the United States Mail to make a fraudulent claim in the amount of $8,262.65, which was paid to him by Nationwide last year.  HAWKINS also used his official Barbour County email account to communicate with Nationwide regarding his false claim.

“The defendant used his position as sheriff to take advantage of the insurance claims process and to receive a substantial financial benefit,” said U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld.  “The false accident report that he ordered his deputy to create helped to substantiate his claim, as did the fact that he was a law enforcement officer himself.  By abusing the authority of his position Sheriff Hawkins violated the trust that the citizens of Barbour County placed in him when he was elected.”

As part of his plea agreement HAWKINS must make full restitution to Nationwide Insurance Company.  HAWKINS also is required to resign as the Sheriff of Barbour County, to relinquish his West Virginia Law Enforcement Certification, and to agree to never again serve as a law enforcement officer.

The United States Attorney’s Office agreed not to pursue other investigations into the conduct of HAWKINS, including his alleged mishandling of an estate in his official capacity as sheriff, allegations of missing funds from the sheriff’s tax office, and potential civil rights violations.

The investigation into others who may have been involved in the scheme is ongoing, according to Ihlenfeld.
HAWKINS faces up to twenty years and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and his prior criminal history, if any.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr and was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Unit.  Agents and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Virginia State Police led the inquiry into HAWKINS.  Assistance was provided by the West Virginia Insurance Commission, Fraud Investigations Division.

Ihlenfeld urges anyone with information regarding public corruption in their community to call the West Virginia Public Corruption Hotline at 855.WVA.FEDS (1.855.982.3337), or to send an email to .

GFP - 02.21.2014
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Clarksburg Sued Over Property Demolitions

The Gilmer Free Press

The city of Clarksburg is being sued by a bankruptcy trustee over the demolition of several properties owned by a landlord couple.

The lawsuit contends that city officials deprived Thomas J. and Diana R. Jacquez of their property rights without due process.

The lawsuit also alleges that city officials refused to grant the couple building and occupancy permits and revoked their rental business license to assert control of the properties and demolish them.

href=“” title=“The Exponent Telegram”>The Exponent Telegram reports that lawyers representing Tom Fluharty filed the lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg. Fluharty is the bankruptcy trustee in the couple’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. The lawyers also represent the couple.

Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe tells the newspaper he had not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 02.10.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Monday, February 10, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop appeared for his regular monthly motion day and heard 9 juvenile matters and reset them for review as follows:

•  Monday, May 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM, 9:10 AM, and 9:20AM; Monday, March 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM, 9:40 AM, 9:50 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM; and Monday, April 14, 2014 at 9:10 AM.

•  A bench trial will be held on Wednesday, March 05, 2014 at 9:00 AM in the magistrate appeal between Marlea Cottrill and Richard Neal.

Judge Alsop asked both parties to prepare a list of their witnesses.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Lucas Buckhannon

He was before the Court and Perry Bonding was required to pay $2,500.00 to the Circuit Clerk within 10 days due to Buckhannon failing to appear timely at an earlier court appearance for sentencing.

Buckhannon remains in Central Regional Jail with no date set for sentencing.

•  A jury trial was scheduled for Tuesday, October 21, 2014 in the case of Michael Langford vs. Patrick Bush.

•  A motion for home confinement in the case of State of West Virginia vs. Stacy Bright was taken under advisement.

Bright was represented by Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway.

Webster County Woman to Be Retried in Husband’s Death

The Gilmer Free Press

A Webster County woman is retried on charges of killing her husband in 2009.

Julia Surbaugh’s new trial is in Webster County Circuit Court.

A Webster County jury convicted Surbaugh of first-degree murder in May 2010.

She was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole.

The West Virginia Supreme Court overturned the conviction in November 2012 and sent the case back to circuit court for a new trial.

The justices ruled that the lower court judge did not give a proper jury instruction on evidence of good character.

Court records show that Surbaugh’s husband, Michael Surbaugh, was shot three times in the face on August 06, 2009.

On Tuesday, a jury was selected consisting of 7 women and 5 men just after 3:00 PM and opening statements were heard in the case.

The defense also presented their side.

On Wednesday, they will be at the crime scene in Webster County, and then the state will begin their arguments in the afternoon in Braxton County.

Ritchie County Judge Allowing Ethics Violations…

The Gilmer Free Press

John M. Richards seeks recusal of Ritchie County Judge from WV Supreme Court of Appeals for not allowing Case to move forward…

Is this a case of Ethics Violations and Bucket Loads of Horse Pucky which are delaying the case?

John M. Richards,
Petitioner, Pro-Se,


Judge Timothy L. Sweeney,
Respondent. )

) )Motion To Recuse - Timothy L. Sweeney – Ritchie County Circuit Court Judge
) )

The Petitioner/Defendant, John M. Richards respectfully Motions the Honorable Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to Recuse Judge Timothy L. Sweeney for misconduct, incompetence and the appearance of impropriety.

With all respect to the West Virginia Judicial System a solid steadfast adherence to a strict moral and ethical code with firm, fair and impartial treatment of all parties (on both sides of the fence) is needed in a case where not only misconduct by the State is reported, but State Police Corruption is alleged in the case as well.

Judge Timothy L. Sweeney denied the Defendant, John M. Richards the right to be heard on a timely filed Motion To Recuse the Defendant’s Court Appointed Attorney; Mrs. Dreama D. Sinkkanen. With this unjustified denial of Due Process of Law by the Court the Defendant was also effectively denied any assistance from Legal Counsel for an additional 71 plus days in the case.

The Defendant shortly after a hearing on November 18, 2013 which was held in the Circuit Court of Ritchie County, West Virginia the Defendant knew that his Court appointed attorney, Mrs. Sinkkanen had lied to the Court when successfully arguing a Motion for a continuance in the Defendant’s case. Judge Sweeney eagerly Granted Mrs. Sinkkanen’s Motion to Continue, further delaying the case.

Mrs. Sinkkanen knowingly and willingly misleads the Court when stating she had been in contact with the Defendant’s Probation/Home Confinement Office while attempting to make arrangements to physically meet with the Defendant, due to the Defendant being on Home Confinement, which was Ordered by the Honorable Judge/Justice Larry V. Starcher.

Within days of the November 18, 2013 Hearing, the Defendant verified with Home Confinement Officials that Mrs. Sinkkanen had never contacted or attempted to make arrangements with the Defendant’s Probation/Home Confinement Office as presented to the Court by Mrs. Sinkkanen. The Defendant therefore felt if Mrs. Sinkkanen would lie to the Court she would lie or mislead the Defendant as well.

Therefore, the Defendant filed a Legal Ethics Complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel against Mrs. Sinkkanen for various violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. (Please see: Legal Ethics Complaint I.D. No. 13-02-550) As of Feb. 12, 2014 Mrs. Sinkkanen has failed to respond to Disciplinary Counsel regarding the Ethics Complaint missing a date in late December to file her answer and once again Mrs. Sinkkanen missed a deadline set by Disciplinary Counsel of February 3, 2014 to have her verified response submitted to Disciplinary Counsel.

As well, the Defendant filed a Motion to Recuse Mrs. Sinkkanen, with the Court (Judge Sweeney).

The Defendant was forced to move quickly to file the Pro-Se Motion to Recuse Mrs. Sinkkanen. The Defendant’s Motion to Recuse and Appoint new Counsel was FILED with the Ritchie County Circuit Clerk’s Office on November 25, 2013. It is clear by the facts on Record that the Defendant had caused the Motion to Recuse to be Filed in as little as Seven (7) working days after the November 18, 2013 Hearing Date hoping to prevent further delays in the case.

Prior to the Defendant filing the Motion to Recuse, the Court had set the next Hearing Date in the Case for over 71 days away, which gave the Court more than a reasonable time frame to review the Defendant’s very timely FILED Motion to Recuse Mrs. Sinkkanen and appoint new counsel for the Defendant to stop further delays in the Defendant’s attempt at securing a Trial and hoping the Court would Order new counsel to be appointed for the Defendant that would act reasonably to secure potentially time sensitive case evidence.

An examination of the record in the Case will reflect that this was clearly not Judge Sweeney desire to allow the Defendant access to an Attorney who would investigate the Defendant’s allegations of State Police Corruption in the Case or have an Attorney who would investigate and secure case evidence.

For over a year the Defendant sent letter after letter and attempted phone call after phone call to court appointed attorney Sinkkanen without results. Mrs. Sinkkanen proved to be very ineffective as Defense Counsel and the Defendant feels a serious prejudice to his case was caused due to Mrs. Sinkkanen’s unwillingness to move the Defendant’s case forward.

The Defendant’s case was also prejudiced by Judge Sweeney for allowing Mrs. Sinkkanen to not provided proper notice in the form of a written Notice/Motion for a Continuance so the Defendant could prepare a formal written Motion objecting the unjust delay.

Although Mrs. Sinkkanen had been counsel for the Defendant for over a year, there is clear evidence that Mrs. Sinkkanen did not act with promptness and/or due diligence which caused Mrs. Sinkkanen to intentionally mislead the Court in order to obtain a continuance for herself in the case. Mrs. Sinkkanen did relatively nothing in regards to case preparation.

Mrs. Sinkkanen refused to personally discuss case information over the phone or by letter with the Defendant. Mrs. Sinkkanen refused to collect evidence, or interview witnesses involved with the case as outlined in numerous letters to Mrs. Sinkkanen from the Defendant.

The Defendant was incarcerated for Six (6) months pursuant to ramifications of the charges Mrs. Sinkkanen represented the Defendant on.

During the Defendant’s Six months of incarceration while waiting on a Probation Revocation Hearing which was due to the current charges lodged against the Defendant in Ritchie County, the Honorable Judge/Justice Larry V. Starcher acting with Senior Status held a full and complete evidentiary hearing on the charges lodged against the Defendant pursuant to the Ritchie County Charges.

Judge Starcher vigilantly examined evidence and thoroughly questioned the WV State Trooper who investigated and obtained the alleged confession/statement from State Witness Mr. William Willis Estep II. Judge Starcher denied the State’s Motion to Revoke the Defendant’s Probation stating:

“This Judge has not been convinced by a clear and convincing preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed the alleged offenses.”  - - Judge Larry V. Starcher

Mrs. Sinkkanen during the Defendant’s Six (6) months of incarceration made no attempt to contact the Defendant by phone or accept phone calls from the Defendant to discuss the case. Again, the Defendant was incarcerated in the WV Regional Jail System for Six months with the scantiest contact from Mrs. Sinkkanen regarding any letters from the Defendant that contained relevant questions concerning the case and questions of concern about the collection of known exculpatory evidence.

Only one (1) single letter from the Sinkkanen Law Office was received by the Defendant where Mrs. Sinkkanen had acknowledge that she has noted the Defendant had tried to contact her office by phone several times. This single letter from Mrs. Sinkkanen to the Defendant was dated January 29, 2013. There are no other letters or reported phone conversations where Mrs. Sinkkanen acknowledged personal contact with the Defendant prior to the day of the November 18, 2013 Hearing where the Defendant thereafter filed the Pro-Se Motion to Recuse Mrs. Sinkkanen as Counsel.

The Defendant wrote the Sinkkanen Law Office on two occasions after the November 18, 2013 hearing and requested the status of Judge Sweeney’s Order or what was at the least a stern verbal request by Judge Sweeney directing both Mrs. Sinkkanen and Prosecutor Jones to work together to resolve the issue with the Defendant allegedly not being able to personally meet with Mrs. Sinkkanen due to alleged restrictions with the Defendant’s Home Confinement Order. Nonetheless, the Sinkkanen Law Office never responded to either of the Defendant’s letters dated December 12, 2013 or January 10, 2014 again the letters were questions regarding the status of the progress of making arrangements for the Defendant to meet with Counsel. Also, neither Prosecutor Jones nor Mrs. Sinkkanen acted on or with respect to Judge Sweeney’s stern verbal request to resolve Mr. Richards’s dilemma to personally meet with his case Attorney.

The Defendant in his Motion to Recuse Mrs. Sinkkanen had clearly outlined ethics violations and various other violations of the Professional Code of Conduct committed by Mrs. Sinkkanen. However, Judge Sweeny acted arbitrary and capricious when he knowingly and willfully took no action on the Defendant’s Pro-Se Motion to Recuse Mrs. Sinkkanen and appoint other Counsel for the Defendant.

Over 71 days after the Defendant filed the Recusal Motion with the Court and having no response or representation from the Sinkkanen Law Office, the Defendant reported for a scheduled Hearing in the Ritchie County Circuit Court on January 28, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. However, just minutes before the Defendant’s 1:00 p.m. Hearing the Court received a Fax from the Sinkkanen Law Office which was a Motion to move the Court for permission to withdraw as counsel for the Defendant John M. Richards citing a conflict of interest. Judge Sweeney apparently had communications with Mrs. Sinkkanen without the Defendant being present as Mrs. Sinkkanen did not appear in Court and the Defendant was without Counsel and was ordered by Judge Sweeney to return to Court on February 21, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.
Another issue of serious concern for the Defendant in this case, is the Fact that the State’s Witness, Mr. William W. Estep had once struck a deal with the State to give what the Defendant knows to be perjured testimony. However, the State’s threats and coercion of Mr. Estep must have worn off as Mr. Estep changed his mind stating basically he was not going to test-ta-lie for the State.

Thereafter, Prosecutor Jones and the Judge Sweeney conspired to re-incarcerate Mr. Estep and after sitting in the Regional Jail for a while, Mr. Estep once again changed his mind, and agreed to provide the information the State was coercing. Shabang! After a short while of being coerced with incarceration and further being coerced with getting off with a promise (guarantee) from the State of simple probation for Mr. Estep’s serious crimes spree, Mr. Estep jumped back on the State’s bandwagon of providing false testimony against two alleged perpetrators in the case.

In the Defendant’s 1st and only Pro-Se Motion filed with the Court the Defendant complained not only that Attorney Sinkkanen committed serious ethics violations when she knowingly and willingly provided false statements to the Court but the Defendant also complained Attorney Sinkkanen submitted a whole bucket load of Horse Pucky to Judge Sweeney in the form of various violations of the RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT.

Judge Timothy L. Sweeney knowingly and willingly caused and/or forced the Defendant to be without counsel at a scheduled hearing on January 28, 2014 due to Judge Sweeney successfully protecting Mrs. Sinkkanen’s misconduct for the last 71 days since she committed the ethics violations, and again minutes before the January 28th Hearing, Judge Sweeney Granted Mrs. Sinkkanen’s request to withdraw as counsel and she was a no show for the scheduled January 28th Hearing in the Defendant’s case.

The Defendant argues that the record will reflect that Judge Sweeney is partial to allowing Mr. Steven A. Jones (Ritchie County Prosecuting Attorney) to knowingly and willingly submit false statements to the Court with no reprisals. Transcripts of the proceeding conducted in the Ritchie County Circuit Court on November 18, 2013 will reveal the Prosecutor presented false information to the Court where Prosecutor Jones stated that Mr. David Carl Wine had been charged with a Firearms violation after being released on Bond in his Ritchie County Court Case. However, this was simply not true but Judge Sweeney without further information or records of fact Ruled to Revoke Mr. David Carl Wines bond and further Ordered Mr. Wine remanded to the Regional Jail. Prosecutor Jones is a veteran Prosecutor and is well rehearsed in pulling the wool over the eyes of the Judge Sweeney Court.

Furthermore, Judge Sweeney showed [His] Court was again PARTIAL to allowing Prosecutor Jones to knowingly and willingly submit false statements to the Court without consequences. The Prosecutor as little as Four (4) hours later after presenting the False information about Mr. Wine allegedly being charged with a Firearms violation, Prosecutor Jones verbally declared to Judge Sweeney that he may Motion the Court to revoke the Defendant’s Bond in the case, stating the Defendant John M. Richards had committed additional crimes since his release on Bond in the case. The Court at that time in the proceedings, did state something to the fact, that the information Prosecutor Jones presented regarding the Defendant having committed additional crimes since his release on Bond in the case was believed by the Court to be incorrect.

Prosecutor Jones has no excuse for presenting misleading information to the Court, other than being willing to provide untrue statements that best suites Prosecutor Jones’ cause in the case. However, the Defendant believes that the Court should have or should still contact the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and report Prosecutors Jones for ethics violations. Also, to avoid the appearance of impropriety the Court could ask for an investigation, both with State and Federal agencies regarding the Defendants allegations of misconduct committed by Prosecutor Jones.

Once the Court acknowledged the information provided by Prosecutor Jones against Defendant Richards was incorrect. The Defendant feels the Court was then violating the Code of Judicial Conduct by not taking action against Prosecutor Jones. It is possible the Court should have petitioned the WV Prosecutors Association and request that Prosecutor Jones be promptly replaced in the case due to misconduct.

The Court (Judge Sweeney) took no action against Prosecutor Jones.

Prosecutor Jones and Mrs. Sinkkanen apparently have company in their Train of Ethics Violations. Judge Timothy L. Sweeney violated the Judicial Code of Conduct every time he allowed Prosecutor Jones and/or Mrs. Sinkkanen to erode the integrity of the Judicial System by allowing them to commit ethics violations and other misconduct without reprisals. Some believe Judge Sweeney is the Engineer of the Ethics Violation Express.

Folks in Ritchie County have also named the Judicial System there, “The Rail-Road” and the rumors of the Locomotive that runs “The Rail-Road” is Judge Sweeney. Quoting a comment from a local Web-Site created by a Group of Citizens who has named their Web-Site, “The Rail-Road” one commenter dubbed the Ritchie Judicial System, as a Train called “The Corruption Express”. This gives illustration that a percentage of local citizens feel there is Judicial Corruption in Ritchie County and their confidence in the Legal System is drained.

The Defendant is currently following up on an informational complaint to Federal Authorities regarding numerous issues of corruption in this Ritchie County Circuit Court Case and regarding several bouts of Federally Protected Civil Rights Violations committed by the West Virginia State Police in the current case and on numerous prior occasions where the Defendant was arrested by the WV State Police with no conviction resulting.

Prosecutor Jones and the WV State Police are involved with coercion of an alleged State Witness/Defendant Mr. William W. Estep. State Police first questioned the State’s Witness Mr. Estep about a break-in at the Harrisville State Police Detachment on the evening of October 30, 2012. At that time Mr. Estep steadfastly claimed he knew nothing about the case. However, after hours of coercion and threats, (caught on Video surveillance) State Witness Mr. Estep was promised that the Judge would give him a low Bond with recommendations and favorable treatment from the Prosecution. Two other Defendants were also coerced in a similar way if information they were stating was provided.

There is Audio/Video Surveillance that proves the West Virginia State Police lied in their reports concerning facts of the case. This evidence shows and supports the fact that State’s Witness (Estep) was denied counsel during questioning and proves Mr. Estep was indeed in CUSTODY during several hours of questioning by State Police without being provided Miranda Warning until the following day. Again, Evidence will prove these facts to be true.

Other than false information presented to the Court by Prosecutor Jones, in the David Carl Wine case there did not appear to be any solid facts or hard evidence presented to the Court for grounds to Revoke Mr. Wine’s $100,000 bond unless Judge Sweeney had engaged in ex parte communications during a short Court recess.

Any ex parte communications that occurred by the Court or the State would cause Mr. Wine to be denied Due Process as no opportunity to challenge such undisclosed information would exist. Mr. Wine believes that no evidence was available to the Court to corroborate the Prosecutor’s false statements that Mr. Wine was charged with a Firearms violation after he posted bond in the case. The statement was simply not true, but rather it was a desperate scheme by the State, (Prosecutor Jones) with the Courts approval to jail Mr. Wine, and keep Mr. Wine oppressed, and with questionable court appointed representation. Jailing a Defendant without Bond is a scheme used in Ritchie County by the State as well as the Court to coerce Defendants into plea agreements.

The Court is involved in a much darker picture than just not knowing of the Prosecution and Mrs. Sinkkanen’s misconduct in this case. The Defendant and other court observers believe Judge Sweeney is participating in a conspiracy designed to Cover-up State Police Corruption in the case. The State Police Corruption is supported by audio and video recording as well as documents obtained through a portion of an incomplete Discover request.

The Due Process Clause, Article III, Section 10 of the West Virginia Constitution, requires procedural safeguards against State action which affects a liberty interest.

Judge Sweeney denied the Defendant the right to Due Process by totaling refusing the Defendant’s right to be heard on his Motion to Recuse his Court appointed attorney for alleged misconduct. Judge Sweeney violates the Defendant’s Constitutional Rights as well as violated the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Defendant believes Judge Sweeney violated the Code of Judicial Conduct; Canon #1 and #3.
Judge Sweeney violated Canon #1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; A judge shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Judge Sweeney also failed to perform the duties of Judicial Office impartially and diligently a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon #3.

Judge Sweeney has violated several Cannon’s regarding the Judicial Code of Conduct. The record in this case will establish that Judge Sweeney has acted with bias and the bias impaired the fairness of proceeding against the Defendant and brings the judiciary into disrepute.

In conclusion, the Petitioner/Defendant John M. Richards respectfully request for Judge Timothy L. Sweeney to voluntarily Recuse himself from the Case or in the alternative the Defendant/Petitioner respectfully requests the Chief Justice of the WV Supreme Court to Recuse Judge Sweeney due to the appearance of impropriety and other alleged facts of misconduct outlined in this or the ATTACHED, (Motion To Recuse - Judge Timothy L. Sweeney) which has been prepared and notarized for Filing with the Clerk of the West Virginia Supreme Court Appeals.

Dated this 12th day of February, 2014

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Richards, Pro-Se
820 Williams Hwy.
Vienna, WV 26105

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