CHARLESTON — Pleasants County’s two prosecuting attorneys have responded to charges brought for their function in a scheme to dismiss specified misdemeanors in trade for monetary donations to a paused Christmas gift system.
According to paperwork filed in November with the West Virginia Supreme Court docket of Appeals, Prosecuting Legal professional Brian Carr and Assistant Prosecutor Paul Marteney submitted written responses to rates brought by the Investigative Panel of the West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board in Oct.
The Investigative Panel introduced documents on Oct. 15 charging Carr with 20 counts of a number of violations of the Policies of Experienced Conduct, the Bible for legal professionals in the condition, as perfectly as violations of condition code. Marteney was charged with five violations of the Guidelines of Professional Carry out for collaborating in what has been dubbed SantaGate, as well as two unrelated rates.
In their published responses, each Carr and Marteney denied any wrongdoing for their element in collaborating in the St. Marys Police Department’s Slow Down for the Holiday method.
“All steps taken by Respondent Carr and his assistant, Mr. Marteney, for the duration of the time interval in the minimal range of cases established forth in the Statement of Prices have been lawful, moral, and inside of the broad discretion of an elected prosecuting attorney below West Virginia law…,” wrote J. Michael Benninger, Carr’s attorney.
The Slow Down application, started in 2008, associated law enforcement officers dismissing minimal website traffic citations in exchange for donations of $50 present cards or the equal of $50 in toys. Carr was the municipal choose for St. Marys when the plan started off. Right after Carr was elected as county prosecutor in 2018, his workplace and the Pleasants County Sheriff’s Section grew to become involved.
According to the assertion of costs, as an alternative of dismissing minimal site visitors infractions, Carr and Marteney allegedly dismissed dozens of pick out condition misdemeanor rates involving 2018 and 2020. In its place of soliciting reward playing cards or toy donations, Carr and Marteney solicited financial donations to the Gradual Down program in trade for dropping the costs.
Far more than $41,000 was collected from defendants for the Sluggish Down system amongst 2018 and 2020 before the plan was paused. Misdemeanor fees dismissed in Pleasants County Justice of the peace Court docket involved men and women passing stopped university buses, speeding, littering, possession of alcoholic beverages by minors and several offenses for driving beneath the influence.
Carr and Marteney argued that the discounts had been all suitable, and that no objections were being lifted by defense lawyers or other parties prior to Dec. 16, 2020, when Carr was contacted by Rachael Cipoletti, main lawyer at the Office environment of Disciplinary Counsel. Carr self-noted to the ODC soon after that dialogue six days later. A complaint was opened by the ODC against Carr and Marteney in January.
“…Carr and his assistant, Mr. Marteney, investigated the details with care and precision, examined the obtainable evidence, applicable legislation, and facts, and exercised their discretion, soon after complete session with the concerned legislation enforcement officer, in superior good and without corrupt motive or affect, in an try to seek out justice within the community policy of this condition,” Benninger wrote.
In accordance to the grievance, Carr and Marteney reported the arresting officer would propose a situation be dispensed through the Sluggish Down software. Carr and Marteney would recommend defendants of the existence of the system. If all parties agreed, the situation would be dispensed by means of St. Marys Municipal Courtroom. If the defendant donated to the Sluggish Down system, the misdemeanors prices at the county degree would be dismissed.
Former Pleasants County magistrates Randy Nutter and Lisa Taylor been given public admonishments from the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Fee in September after cooperating with an investigation into their participation in the Slow Down for the Vacations system. Equally former magistrates agreed to resign and never ever seek community office environment once again for any judicial positions.
The ODC, which assists the Law firm Disciplinary Board, investigates issues pertaining to violations of the Policies of Expert Carry out that attorneys stick to in West Virginia. The Law firm Disciplinary Board tends to make suggestions to the West Virginia Supreme Court docket of Appeals, whose members figure out what disciplinary actions to get.