Court News

Braxton County Attorney Gets Probation For Embezzlement

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

A Braxton County attorney will remain a free man after admitting to embezzling nearly $75,000 from a trust account he was appointed to oversee.

Thomas J. Drake on September 13, 2012 was indicted via information on a single charge of embezzlement. According to the indictment, Drake converted $70,798.57 belonging to the ATS Settlement Trust between July 2009 and August 2011.

No details are provided about the trust, and when Drake was made its trustee. The only other information available is that Drake’s embezzlement of the funds took place in Elkview.

In exchange for agreeing to plead guilty, Assistant Kanawha County Prosecutor Rob Schulenburg offered to recommend Drake get probation for a term to be determined by Judge James C. Stucky. Also, as a condition of his probation, Drake was to make court-ordered restitution.

As of press-time, Stucky’s sentencing order was not available. According to his attorney William C. Forbes, Stucky placed Drake on two years probation.

The amount of restitution, Forbes said, has yet to be recommended by the probation office.

According to the state Bar’s Web site, Drake, 36, is a sole practitioner in Gassaway, WV. He was admitted to the Bar on September 26, 2000.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 12-F-491

~~  Kyla Asbury -Kanawha Bureau - WV Record  ~~

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G-otcha™: Gilmer County Man Remains Behind Bars on Multiple Sexual Charges

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon
Full Name: Hacker,  Robert  Lee
Height: 6’  1”
Weight: 225 lbs.
Birth Date: 02.19.1964
Gender: Male
Booking Date: 07.06.2012
Facility: Tygart Valley Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
12F-48-51 GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $100,000.00          
12F-52 GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $0.00          
12M-126  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $500.00           
12F55;12F56-59;12F60-90;12M134  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $201,000.00          
12F-147-161 GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $75,000.00          

In a preliminary hearing before Gilmer County Magistrate Carol L. Wolfe on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 charged with on sixty one counts of felony and misdemeanor charges:

•  Six counts of second degree sexual assault

•  One count of sexual abuse by person of trust

•  Four counts of first degree sexual abuse

•  One count of sexual abuse by a parent or guardian

•  Three counts of child neglect creating risk of injuries

•  Forty five counts of sexual abuse by a parent or guardian

•  One count of harassing, obscene, or threatening phone calls

•  One count of domestic battery

Hacker waived his right to a preliminary hearing on all charges and the cases were sent to the Gilmer County Circuit Court for further proceedings.

Hearing Set in Challenge to WV Vaccination Law

The Gilmer Free Press

A Pickens High School senior kept out of the classroom over her refusal to get mandatory immunizations may get a chance to argue her case in court later this week.
Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong has scheduled a hearing for 10:00 AM Friday in Elkins.

Olivia Hudok and father Phil, a retired teacher, sued the county school board and Superintendent James Phares earlier this month, demanding they grant a religious exemption allowing her in school. In the meantime, Olivia is being home-schooled by her dad.

Phares told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the district has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing the state Department of Health and Human Resources should have been a defendant, and lawsuits against state agencies must be filed in Kanawha County.

The state attorney general’s office has filed two motions as well, district attorney Greg Bailey said. One seeks to intervene in the case, while the other asks the judge to dismiss because it was filed in the wrong county.

The InterMountain of Elkins , which first reported the complaint, says Olivia refused to get Tdap and MCV4 boosters for religious reasons and because of concerns about toxic ingredients. The immunizations are designed to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and meningitis.

Under a new state mandate, all seventh- through 12th-graders must have been vaccinated by September 04.

Bailey said Tuesday that three similar lawsuits have been filed around West Virginia — one each in Kanawha, Ohio and Mercer counties. All, he said, should be argued in Kanawha County.

Olivia Hudok was warned September 07 and September 10 that she would be denied admission to the tiny school, where she is one of only three seniors, if she failed to get proof of immunization.

The complaint her father filed says she will “suffer irreparable harm by being denied her fundamental right to an education” and requests an injunction barring the school district from enforcing its plan.

West Virginia and Mississippi, it notes, are the only states that currently don’t recognize religious exemptions regarding vaccinations.

A county health department letter to the Hudoks calls immunization “a public health issue, not a personal freedom issue.“

“It protects everyone in the school systems and the whole community,“ wrote health officer Mary Boyd.

The letter says vaccinations work, in part, through “herd immunity,“ meaning that when a large enough percentage of the population is immune, it prevents the smaller percentage from developing infections.

“Herd immunity only works if a large percentage of the children get the vaccine,“ the letter said. “If that percentage gets lower, we will see the rate of vaccine preventable diseases increase.“

And the “herd” at Pickens High School is small: Phares says there are just 37 students this year, including the three seniors.

If the county prevails in court, he said, it could have potentially negative implications for the school.

Should Olivia Hudok refuse to get vaccinated, the district would consider her a dropout, Phares said. That would compromise the school’s “adequate yearly progress” figures by slashing the graduation rate from the typical 100% to 67%.

“It only takes one who drops out to bushwhack all those ratings,“ he said.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 09.24.12

The Gilmer Free Press

On Thursday, September 20, 2012 Chief Judge Jack Alsop appeared in Gilmer County at 2:00 PM and heard 2 juvenile hearings which were then reset for Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM and Friday, November 09, 2012 at 1:00 PM.

On Monday, September 24, 2012 Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over his regular monthly motion day in Gilmer County.

•  One fugitive from justice waived extradition back to the state of Virginia.

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon
Full Name: Brown,  Steven  Roy
Height: 5’  6”
Weight: 150 lbs.
Birth Date: 11.24.1962
Gender: Male
Booking Date: 09.21.2012
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
12E-21  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $0.00         
Fugitive from justice who has waived extradition back to the State of Virginia. He is represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston and authorities in Virginia have until 4:00 PM Tuesday, October 02, 2012 to pick him up or Central Regional Jail will release him.

Steven Brown was represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston and authorities in Virginia have until 4:00 PM Tuesday, October 02, 2012 to pick him up or Central Regional Jail will release him.

•  A status hearing was held in the case of State of West Virginia vs. Kenneth Greenlief, who remains in a group home in Marlinton.

Another review will be held in his case at 10:00 AM on Monday, January 28, 2013.

Greenlief was represented by Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway.

•  Several juvenile cases were heard and reset for Thursday, December 20, 20121 at 9:00 and 9:05 AM and another set for Monday, October 22, 2012 at 10:45 AM.

Four people were sentenced as follows:

•  State of West Virginia vs. Sundee Honaker

She was sentenced to 1-10 years in the penitentiary, with said sentence being suspended and she received 5 years probation.

She must obtain full time employment or attend college full time and have a part time job.

She must attend and complete NA and AA classes.

She also must perform 100 hours community service per year of probation and must speak to classes about her experiences.

She also must pay court costs within 18 months.

She was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Alicia Wine

She was sentenced to 1-10 years in the penitentiary with her sentence suspended and placed on 5 years probation.

She must be on home confinement for 1 year and pay the fees associated with that.

She must maintain employment and pay court costs within 18 months and make full restitution to the victim (prorated with co-defendants) within 4 years.

She also must perform 100 hours of community served and attend substance abuse counseling.

She was represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Casey Cottrill

She represented by Garth Beck of Clarksburg was sentenced to 1-5 years in the penitentiary but said sentence was suspended and she was awarded 5 years probation.

She must enroll in a long term substance abuse facility and complete it.

She must maintain employment.

She will have a 9:00 PM curfew and be drug tested every 2 weeks and attend NA and AA meetings, as well as family counseling and therapy.

She must pay court costs within 18 months and restitution within 4 years.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Gary Ferrell

He was given a pretrial diversion for 18 months, and he must be supervised by the probation officer for 12 months.

He was represented by Daniel Armstrong.

•  George McDaniels was before the Court to accept a settlement instead of monthly payments, which Judge Facemire granted.

WVCOC: ‘Game Changers’ for West Virginia

The Gilmer Free Press

Officials with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce say West Virginia’s leaders could change the state’s future, in big ways, by addressing five key areas.

The five so called “Game Changers” they say, are:

•  Education

•  Fair Courts

•  Energy

•  Health Care

•  Transportation and Infrastructure

Chamber President Steve Roberts focused on education on MetroNews Talkline.

Almost half of West Virginia’s general revenue budget goes to education.

Still, “We are not keeping up.  We are seeing our test scores consistently coming in somewhere between 44th and 49th among all of the states,“ Roberts said.

“Whether you have children in school or not is not really the question.  The question is, how is our investment doing?“

Those in the state Department of Education are currently working on a response to a comprehensive audit of West Virginia’s education system, released earlier this year.

Roberts says large scale changes need to happen and he is not sure in the current Legislature will take those steps.

“The Legislature, individually, is made up of decent people but, collectively, they go the route of their constituents,“ he said.

“We have more school teachers and school service personnel serving in the Legislature than we have from any other walk of life.“  Roberts says the result is the status quo, not an education system that means the demands of the current economy.

For more on the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s “Game Changers,“ you can go to

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds West Virginia Congressional Redistricting

The Gilmer Free Press

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld West Virginia’s congressional redistricting plan against a challenge that small population variations among its three congressional districts violate the Constitution.

The justices, in an unsigned opinion, reversed a lower federal court ruling that struck down the plan because of the population differences.

The high court said the West Virginia plan easily passes muster and said the population variations are too small to trigger constitutional concerns about the principle of one person, one vote. In addition, the court said the plan adopted by the West Virginia legislature served other legitimate goals, including keeping counties intact and not pitting incumbents against each other.

“It is clear that West Virginia has carried its burden,“ the high court said.

The justices had previously blocked the ruling to allow the state to conduct elections under the map approved by state lawmakers.

The lower court still can consider challenges to the plan under the state Constitution.

Both the state House of Delegates and Senate passed the map with bipartisan and nearly unanimous margins. The difference between the smallest and largest districts was about 4,900 people.

The Jefferson County Commission challenged the redrawing, which moved one county from one congressional district to another.

A panel of three federal judges voted 2-1 in concluding that state officials failed to justify why one district contained several thousand more people than the other two, especially when other proposals contained smaller differences in population.

The judges said that improved technology that allows precise line-drawing also had made what would have been a minor variation in an earlier era into a major issue today.

But the Supreme Court said the judges’ reasoning was faulty. “Nothing about technological advances in redistricting and mapping software has, for example, decreased population variations between a state’s counties,“ the justices said.

The case is Tennant v. Jefferson County Commission, 11-1184.

Gilmer County Family Court News – 09.12.12

The Gilmer Free Press

Family Court Judge Larry Whited held Family Court in Gilmer County on Wedenesday, September 12, 2012.

•  One domestic violence case was dismissed when the petitioner failed to appear to pursue the matter.

•  One allocation was granted.

•  One contempt proceeding was continued.

Two divorces were granted as follows:

•  Daniel Chapman(50) of Glenville, WV divorced Lora S. Chapman (49) of Glenville, WV.

•  Jeffrey Jenkins (31) of Glenville, WV divorced Brandy Jenkins (31) of Glenville, WV.

G-otcha™: Lewis County Resident Enters Plea to Methamphetamine Conspiracy Charge

Imprisonment Status:  Federal Inmate
Full Name: Weaver,  Richard  Wayne
Height: 5’  11”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Birth Date: 12.09.1974
Gender: Male
Booking Date: 07.16.2012
Facility: Tygart Valley Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Federal Inmate

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
12 US MARSHALL SERVICE/NORTHERN - Bail Amount: $0.00         
32 year old Horner, West Virginia, resident entered a plea of guilty on September 18, 2012, in United States District Court in Elkins before Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that: RICHARD WAYNE WEAVER entered a plea of guilty to Conspiracy to Manufacture, Possess with Intent to Distribute and Distribute Methamphetamine from May of 2011 to July of 2012 in the Northern District of West Virginia.

WEAVER, who is in custody pending sentencing, faces up to 30 years imprisonment and a $2,000,000 fine due to three prior felony convictions.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen D. Warner and investigated by the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department, the Buckhannon Police Department and the United States Marshals Service.

Former GSC Students Says Glenville Bungled Rape Case

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

A former Glenville State College student is alleging campus police failed to properly investigate her claim she was raped two years ago following an impromptu party in her dormitory.

The College, and Daniel Bell, chief of its public safety department, are named as co-defendants in a civil rights suit filed by Amanda Smith. In her complaint filed September 17, 2012 in U.S. District Court, Smith, age 21, of Mineral Wells, says campus police not only failed to conduct the most routine of investigation into her allegation she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student in 2010, but also lost important evidence.

Additionally, Smith alleges hers is not the first time either campus police or GSC officials have showed deliberate indifference toward alleged rape victims.

The Gilmer Free Press

A Not-So-Quiet Evening

According to her suit, Smith, then a sophomore, after returning to her room in Goodwin Hall from her on-campus job on September 18, 2010, received a text message from Michael McHenry, a fellow student, asking if she wanted to go out for ice cream. About that same time, Jayde Layne, another student, knocked on Smith’s door requesting help in the dorm’s laundry room.

However, Layne agreed to join Smith and McHenry for ice cream. They were accompanied by Jordan “Opie” Watkins, Erietta Patrianakos, and several “unidentified students.“

After returning to Goodwin Hall between 5:30 and 6:00 PM, Smith alleges Layne, and another student, Kala Fisher, asked if she would get McHenry to buy them alcohol. When Smith declined, Fisher and Layne then asked Patrianakos who agreed.

According to the suit, Patrianakos then took the alcohol to Watkins’ room, and left to be with her boyfriend. Shortly thereafter, Smith joined other students including Layne in Watkins’ room.

About 8:30 PM, Smith says she left to help her roommate carry groceries to their room on the second floor. Upon returning to Watkins’ room, Smith found additional students present including “unknown black males mixing drinks.“

Later around 9:00 PM Smith says Layne, who’d previously been mixing drinks in the bathroom, offered her a plastic cup. After consuming the unspecified contents of half of it, Layne brought her a different cup.

Sometime between then and 10:00 PM, the suit maintains Smith appeared she was having a “mild seizure” after becoming nauseous “with alternating bouts of vomiting and urinating, crying and screaming.“ Sometime thereafter she became unconscious.

According to the suit, someone removed Smith’s clothes leaving her in only her bra and panties. Upon discovering her disrobed and unconscious, Layne, Patrianakos and Fisher put Smith in the shower.

Sometime after 10:00 PM, Andrew Lewis, Goodwin Hall’s resident director, heard Smith screaming, and went to Watkins’ room to investigate. After arriving, he was joined by Travis Nesbitt, a student in an adjoining room, in rending first aid to Smith.

At 10:09 PM, Lewis called campus police requesting medical assistance for Smith. Twelve minutes later, Officer William Boone called for an ambulance.

An ambulance arrived at an unspecified time to take Smith to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston. According to the suit, Nesbitt accompanied Smith, and observed her “holding her hands between her legs, stating “‘it hurts.‘“

Upon arrival at SJMH, Smith was placed in the intensive care unit. An initial examination of Smith discovered “a bodily fluid ‘pouring out’ of [her] va**na that ‘was not supposed to be there together with bruising on [her] thigh and arm.“

A toxicology report revealed Smith had a blood alcohol content of .236, and the presence of benzodiazepine in her system. In her suit, Smith avers she was not taking any medication containing benzodiazepine, and only consumed half of the drink Layne gave her.

Because she did not regain full consciousness until sometime the next morning, a sexual assault examination was performed in Smith later that afternoon. The examination revealed, among other things, bruising on Smith’s left shin, knee, upper arm and hip.

Also, the examination discovered Smith had “a large amount of mucus/discharge from her va**na that was ‘white/yellow’ in color in spite of the negative findings of va**nitas and the appearance of bacteria in her va**na opening.“ Furthermore, a nurse told Smith’s mother “‘This should not be there,‘“ when showing her a swab of the substance removed from Smith’s va**na.

Evidence Lost

The suit accuses GSC officials, specifically Bell, of “failing to follow protocol routine in sexual assault cases.“ This includes the “lack of safeguarding and storing of evidence [and] properly securing a crime scene.“

According to the suit, campus police failed to collect both the bed sheets in Watkins’ room and the clothes he used to dress Smith after she threw-up on herself before they were laundered. Also, the cups used to mix and serve the drinks were destroyed before they could be collected.

Additionally, the suit alleges an investigatory notebook kept by Bell was “accidentally placed in a washing machine and destroyed.“ Furthermore, Bell “showed minimal training” when he accused Smith of “placing the bruises found on her body herself.“

According to the suit, the inability of campus police to timely collect evidence was a result of no certified law enforcement officer being on duty at the time Lewis called them for help. The investigation did not begin until Glenville Police Sgt. Casey Jones arrived at a time not specified.

Any investigation into who might have raped Smith was hindered by Layne, Watkins, Patrianakos and Fisher refusing to cooperate with police. According to the suit, they “have refused to identify students in the room and have changed their statements.“

Following her alleged attack, Smith says she attempted to complete her classes that semester. However, due to harassment by Layne, Fisher, Watkins, Patrianakos and other students, who are named as co-defendants in the suit, Smith says she found not only attending classes, but also living in Goodwin Hall difficult.

Assurances college administrators made to “implement reasonable accommodations” for her to finish her classes, Smith said, where not kept. After receiving a letter dated October 07, 2010 from the College’s provost that she would most likely receive failing grades in her classes, Smith decided to withdraw.

According to her suit, college officials continued to display insensitivity toward her after she withdrew. Bell, Lewis and Jerry Burkhammer II, the dean of student affairs, were all no-shows for a meeting with Smith and her parents when she returned to campus to retrieve some personal belongings from her dorm room.

In the two years since she was attacked, Smith says there have been other sexual assaults take place on campus. Though she does not provide specifics, Smith says due to “a lack of investigatory technique and result” similar to what happened in her case, the other women “are considering filing separate claims against [GSC].“

As a result of her attack, the failure of campus police to properly investigate it and the harassment she received afterwards, Smith alleges she’s suffered “severe and permanent psychological damage, emotional distress and decreased educational opportunities.“ Along with ones for civil rights violations, she makes claims for failure to train, retaliation, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Smith seeks unspecified damages, interest, court costs and attorneys fees. She is representing herself.

The case is assigned to Judge Irene M. Keeley.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number 12-cv-147

~~  Lawrence Smith - Kanawha Bureau - The WV Record ~~

West Virginia PSC Orders Hearing in Derecho Case

The Gilmer Free Press

The West Virginia Public Service Commission says it will hold a public meeting in Charleston on Monday, October 22, 2012 to discuss how utility companies across West Virginia responded to the June 29 derecho that left most state residents without electric service for several days.

The order issued this week by the PSC also allows the state Consumer Advocate to intervene in the case and orders the City of Philippi, West Virginia Rural Water Association and the West Virginia Municipal League to file responses as was required in the commission’s July 20th order.

Earlier this summer the PSC gave utility companies 30 days to detail their operation plans to handle outages, discuss the extent of the outages and run through the problems that caused repair delays.

It took 5,100 workers from 22 states, including Kansas, South Dakota and Nebraska, more than 12 days to restore service for Appalachian Power customers.

Hundreds of workers also helped FirstEnergy restore service to Mon Power customers in northern counties.

Appalachian Power spent about $56 million on storm repairs in the Mountain State.

Personal Injury Suit Between Glenville Resident and Glenville State College Settled

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record Reports:

A tentative settlement has been reached in a Gilmer County man’s lawsuit against Glenville State College for injuries he sustained four years ago at a motel the College owns.

August 20 was the scheduled day for trial to begin in Dale Norman’s suit against GSC and the Glenville State College Housing Corporation, a non-profit arm of the College that aids in helping it acquire and construct property. However, the trial was cancelled after the parties announced to Judge Carrie Webster they reached a settlement.

Neither David Mincer, GSC’s attorney, nor Debra Varner, GSCHC’s attorney, returned repeated telephone calls inquiring about the terms of the settlement. Also, Norman’s attorney, Doug Miley, declined to comment saying only it would be spilt evenly between GSC and GSCHC.

In his suit filed October 04, 2010, Norman, age 54, of Glenville, WV, alleged he sustained third-degree burns on his feet two years earlier when he attempted to take a bath at the Conrad Motel. Located down the hill, and across Main Street from GSC, the 42-room two-story motel derives its name from his founder, Jack Conrad, who first started it as a restaurant in 1926, and expanded it into a motel three years later.

According to the College’s Web site, GSCHC purchased the motel in July 2008 from Susie Kidd Shipe, Conrad’s niece, to provide housing for law enforcement officers coming to Glenville for training conducted by the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. However, rooms would still be available to the public especially in June during the annual Folk Festival.

According to the Gilmer County Assessor’s Office, GSCHC purchased the motel for $500,000.

Though they admitted his feet did get burned while staying at the motel, both GSC and GSCHC in their answers to Norman’s suit denied any wrongdoing. In cross claims they filed against each other, both said should they be found liable for Norman’s injuries, the other should be made to compensate for its share of the negligence.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 10-C-1767

~~  Lawrence Smith - WV Record  ~~

WV’s New Business Court

The Gilmer Free Press

A Business Court created by the state Supreme Court is scheduled to start up soon.

The plan was announced by Justice Robin Jean Davis this week and is scheduled to go into effect October 10, 2012.

The Business Court idea was first thought of in 2010.

The court will handle specialized cases in which the principal claims” involve matters of significance to the transactions, operations or governance between business entities” and the dispute involves “commercial and/or technology issues in which specialized treatment is likely to improve the expectation of a fair and reasonable resolution.“

Complex tax appeals will also be eligible to be heard by the Business Court.

Any party or judge involved in a case can seek referral to the Business Court.

A judge will be assigned to each case that is sent to the court and will do his best to conclude business disputes within 10 months from the date the case management order was entered.

The Supreme Court will eventually appoint a total of seven active or senior status circuit court judges to serve in the Business Court.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 09.10.12

The Gilmer Free Press

Chief Judge Jack Alsop presided over his regular motion day, Monday, September 10, 2012.

•  Two fugitives from justice waived extradition to their states, both being represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.

Brandon Owens waived to return to Maryland and Christopher Scott waived to return to Virginia.

Authorities in their states have until 4:00 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 to pick the individuals up at Central Regional Jail or they will be released.

•  Four juveniles were set and scheduled for further hearings as follows: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM, Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 10:00 AM, Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 11:00 AM and Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 2:30 PM.

•  Judgment was rendered against Angela Nicholas in the amount of $7,981.03 in favor of Citibank’NA’ after a pre-trial hearing was heard.

Nicholas represented-herself and -plaintiff was represented by Jane Pancake.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Robert Hacker

He was before the Court for reduction of bond.

Judge Alsop lowered his bond to $150,000.00 good and sufficient surety to be approved by the Circuit Clerk and also to be placed on home confinement and to have no contact with victims and/or witnesses in his case.

Hacker was represented by Daniel Grindo.

•  The name change of Kenneth White was granted to correct his original birth certificate.

WV Judge Orders CashCall to Pay $13M Penalty

The Gilmer Free Press

A West Virginia judge has ordered a California-based loan company to pay a $13 million civil penalty and cancel all debts owned by its clients in the state.

Kanawha County Chief Circuit Judge Duke Bloom issued the penalties against CashCall Inc. this week.

Bloom said the company used predatory lending practices and harassed borrowers who fell behind in payments.

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office began investigating CashCall in 2007 after receiving complaints from consumers.

The office said CashCall charged interest rates of more than 90%.

West Virginia consumer protection laws limit these rates to 18%.

A lawyer for the company, Bruce M. Jacobs tells the Charleston Gazette that CashCall believes Bloom’s order is wrong and it likely will be appealed.

WV Supreme Court Justice Calls Dropout Numbers ‘Scary’

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis says more than half of the circuit judges in West Virginia are now focusing on truancy issues and are urging state lawmakers to put more resources toward battling the problem.

Davis and Taylor County Circuit Judge Alan Moats gave a group of state lawmakers an update Monday on the statewide initiative Davis began a year ago.

Justice Davis says judges are reporting some success against truancy but admit there’s much more work to be done.

Judge Moats says truancy leads to dropouts and the number of dropouts from 2000-2010 was shocking.

“Almost 35-thosuand kids quit school in West Virginia. That number is, quite frankly, scary,“ the judge told lawmakers.

Further statistics show 8 of every 10 dropouts end up in jail.

“They’re going to get in trouble. They have no hope. They are helpless. Most of them are on drugs. They have to feed their drug habit and they have no money to do it, so they end up violating the law,“ Moats said.

The judge predicts unchecked truancy will result in more dropouts and if each dropout over a 10-year period has three children the state could be looking at another 100-thousand more dropouts in the years to come.

“It is multigenerational and it’s not changing and it won’t change unless we stand up and say, ‘enough is enough,‘“ Judge Moats said. “This is destroying our state, slowly but surely, but certainly it is.“

The judge says not one group has the answer. He says not lawmakers, nor judges, nor schools systems. He says everyone must work together.

“It’s everybody’s problem. It’s the entire community’s problem,“ Moats said.

Anti-Truancy Cases Overwhelm West Virginia Social Workers

The Gilmer Free Press

A new effort led by West Virginia’s judicial system to curb the West Virginia’s growing student truancy problem is overwhelming social workers.

The West Virginia Supreme Court launched an initiative last year to tackle truancy by pairing up the circuit court system, local school boards and social agencies to help keep students in school.

The West Virginia Department of Education says about one in five West Virginia students had five or more unexcused absences last year and 9% statewide were truant more than 10 days.

Those involved in the anti-truancy initiative say the increased push is creating results.

But they say is not enough manpower within the state Department of Health and Human Resources to deal with all the truancy cases.

West Virginia Supreme Court Does Order Further Investigation of Chip Watkins

The Gilmer Free Press

The state Supreme Court has ordered the state Judicial Hearing Board to conduct further investigation against a Putnam County Family Court judge but justices have opted not to suspend Judge William “Chip” Watkins III without pay.

In an order released Friday the High Court says it has looked at the complaints filed against Judge Watkins and the Judicial Hearing Board should “conduct further investigation and hold a hearing forthwith.“

Judge Watkins is currently facing seven charges that he allegedly violated the Judicial Code of Conduct and trial court rules.

Watkins has allegedly verbally attacked people in his courtroom. Some of it has been caught on video.

Friday’s order says Supreme Court Justices Robin Davis and Margaret Workman voted to immediately suspend Judge Watkins without pay but the three other justices, Menis Ketchum, Brent Benjamin and Thomas McHugh voted against the no-pay suspension. Judge Watkins continues to hear cases.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court did vote to suspend former Kanawha County Magistrate Carol Fouty without pay.

Meanwhile, Watkins filed his response to the first two charges Friday.

Read the response by clicking H E R E.

In the eight-page response Watkins admits to several of the allegations made in the Formal Statement of Charges but in response to some he says he does not have sufficient knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations.

Judge Watkins does promise to do better.

He says he will try to file orders in a timely fashion, enter domestic violence orders on the same day of the hearing, attend and complete education and training programs and make every effort possible to return phone calls within 24 hours.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 08.27.12

The Gilmer Free Press

On Monday, August 27, 2012 Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over his regular monthly motion day, concluding at approximately 12:30 PM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Angel Hart

She was before the Court for modification of her probation, asking for her ankle bracelet to be removed because she is no longer employed due to her pregnancy, and can no longer afford it.

Hart will remain on probation but without the bracelet for monitoring.

Hart was represented by R. Russell Stobbs of Weston.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Amanda Smith

She was before the court for sentencing after completing her 60 day diagnosis and classification at Lakin Correctional Facility.

She was represented by Garth Beck of Clarksburg and was sentenced to 1 -5 in the penitentiary.

Sentencing was suspended and she was fined $100.00 and court costs to be paid within 18 months and was granted 5-years’ probation.

She also must enroll in long term substance abuse counseling and then attend NA and AA and obtain full time employment.

She must also reside with her mother.

•  Several juvenile matters were heard and reset for Monday, October 22, 2012, most of them are scheduled for 9:00 AM.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Gary Paul Ferrell

He was before the Court for pretrial and his trial remains on the docket for Tuesday, September 18, 2012.

He is represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Jason Pritt

He was before the Court for reconsideration of his sentence, which was denied by the Judge.

Pritt was represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville.

•  William Ratliff Sr. cs. Mylan Inc. Et al

The case was before the court for a settlement hearing, which was granted by the Court but it will be sealed along with the transcript of proceedings when it is received by the Clerk.

•  Francis Frame vs. John Thomas Frame

The case was before the Court for a hearing set by defendant’s attorney, Timothy Butcher, for attorney fees and sanctions.

Judge Facemire took the same under advisement.

Francis Frame represented himself in the proceeding.

Judge Facemire cancelled the Tuesday, August 28, 2012 trial scheduled because he was trying a case in Braxton County.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin: More Workers Stealing From Employers

The Gilmer Free Press

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says his office has seen more employee fraud and theft cases in the last year than he can remember in the past 10 years.

Goodwin says he doesn’t exactly know what’s causing the increase. He says it may be the economy or technology but one thing is for sure—-he says those once trusted employees will be prosecuted.

“We’re going to push this and get justice because we can’t stand for this,“ Goodwin said. “It could be the difference between being in business or not.“

The latest case to wrap-up came this week when former American Electric Power worker Deborah Farmer was sentenced to three years in federal prison for being the ringleader of a power surge scheme.

Farmer, age 47, was an AEP property damage claims adjuster. She led a scheme where more than 30 people filed false property surge claims. She made sure they were paid for those false claims.

“In this case they went to the well a total of 57 times,“ Goodwin said. “There were 57 fraudulent claims filed resulting for a loss (for AEP) of almost 600-thousand dollars.“

A federal judge sentenced co-defendant Julia Washington, age 45, of Charleston, to two years in prison and Freda Bradshaw, age 47, of Pliny, to one year in prison. Four other co-defendants were previously convicted and sentenced.

Goodwin says there are other cases pending of where once trusted employees have stolen from large businesses like banks and smaller businesses. He says each will be prosecuted in the coming months.

“We have easily had a half dozen cases in the past year and it’s especially hard on small businesses,“ Goodwin said. “Sometimes it’s the difference between profitability and not or the difference in staying in business or not.“

Two X-WV Officials Sentenced in Vote Fraud Case

The Gilmer Free Press

A former Lincoln County sheriff has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for his guilty plea in an election fraud conspiracy, while the county’s former clerk received a term of one year and six months.

Ex-Sheriff Jerry Bowman and former clerk Donald Whitten also were fined $5,000 Wednesday in federal court in Charleston.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston called election fraud “a festering sore on the culture and image” of the state and said it must stop.

In March, Bowman pleaded guilty to conspiring to stuff the primary ballot box while running for circuit clerk, while Whitten pleaded guilty to lying to an investigator for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant that he had provided absentee ballots to Bowman.

Both defendants resigned from office afterward.

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