Thursday, May 26, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-27-'11
- David B. Daugherty, an administrative law judge in Huntington, is the subject of a federal investigation for approving too many disability cases. Daugherty has been an administrative law judge for 21 years, but he has been placed on administrative leave indefinitely while the Social Security Administration investigates the high number of social security applications he has granted so far this fiscal year. Daugherty was escorted out of his office Thursday, and his security privileges were revoked for alleged misuse of power including approving disability cases without holding a hearing. In a system where only about 75 percent of the cases presented for disability claims are typically approved, Judge Daugherty has a nearly 100 percent approval. Government data shows Daugherty granted 729 disability cases in the last six fiscal months of 2011, and, in 2010, he denied just four of the 1,284 cases he decided.
- Elisha Riggleman, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution located in Beaver, W.Va., is facing a two count indictment after he allegedly threatened an employee at the prison. Count one says Riggleman threatened to kidnap and assault a Federal Bureau of Prisons law enforcement officer at the prison, and, the second count states Riggleman threatened to murder and assault the wife and child of the employee.
- Two West Virginia men have been sentenced for their roles in a counterfeiting scheme in Roane County. Roger L. Atkinson II, 32, of Ripley, was sentenced to eight months in prison while Lawrence "BJ" Holbrook, 36, of Spencer, was sentenced to four months in prison. Atkinson was convicted in February of passing counterfeit money and conspiring to possess and manufacture counterfeit money. Holbrook pleaded guilty in January to his role in the conspiracy.
- Lawyers for Massey investors who are suing the company's directors say, in filings unsealed this week in state court in Delaware, Don Blankenship, Massey's former chief executive officer, and Chairman Bobby Ray Inman, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, made clear in sworn testimony that they "firmly believed the company was being targeted by the government and government officials, including President Barack Obama, conspired to destroy the coal producer. They allege the large numbers of safety violations Massey received were proof of the conspiracy. United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts says, "The notion advanced by Massey Energy Chairman Bobby Inman that there is some grand secret 'conspiracy' to put Massey out of business is as nutty as the prediction that the world would end last Saturday."
- Sentencing hearings for Luke W. Pugh of Jane Lew and Chad J. Ferrell of Nettie, two former West Virginia coal miners who pleaded guilty to lying about their credentials to perform mandatory safety checks have been set for June 21st in Elkins. They each face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Joseph Gibson and Shane Peck, two Kanawha county teens who have already pleaded guilty to numerous felonies, are now facing additional charges after being indicted by the May grand jury on burglary and petit larceny charges. Their trial date for the additional charges has been set for June 21st.
- Police say a white male wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt robbed the Pioneer Federal Credit Union in South Charleston about 3;00 P.M. Thursday. The man, who did not brandish a weapon, handed the teller a note demanding money and then left on foot with the money in a black folder.
- Craig Owens was charged with eight counts of possession, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and driving on a suspended license after hitting a power pole on Enslow Boulevard and trying to flee the scene just after 11:00 A.M. Thursday morning. Police say Owens had several prescription pills.
- Antonio Jeffries, 22, of Charleston, has been indicted on a charge of aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base. According to the indictment, Jeffries is accused of possessing more than 280 grams of the drug near Sissonville on May 3rd. In 2008, Jeffries was convicted of being an accessory after the fact in the murder of 20 year old Andrew Smoot. He was sentenced to one year in prison, and, shortly after his release, he was shot in the leg on Clay Avenue.
- Huntington Police have charged Walter Wendell Norwood of Detroit and Melissa D. Mahan of Huntington, both 24, on charges of felony delivery of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver. Both are accused of delivering 550 Hydrocodone pills at a parking lot in Huntington Tuesday night. Mahan also faces a misdemeanor charge of battery on a police officer.
- Members of the state Public Service Commission could issue a decision on the latest rate increase proposals from Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power by the end of June. Testimony is scheduled to continue on Friday in front of the PSC after a full day of testimony on Thursday focused on the proposed 9.5% increase that is the next phase of a four year rate increase plan. American Electric Power officials say the company has phased in the rates over a period of time so the impact to the rate payers in 2008 wouldn't be an 80% or 90% swing at one time. As part of the phase in plan, rates went up 12% in 2009 and 8.2% in 2010. If approved, the latest proposed increases will take effect on July1st.
- Micheal Wears, 37, of Gallipolis Ferry, a Kanawha County paramedic has been fired after being charged with allegedly slapping a prisoner who was in the custody of Dunbar police. Dunbar Police Chief Earl Whittington said Wears was one of two county paramedics called to the Dunbar Police Station on May 19th to check on a prisoner who had been picked up for intoxication. He said the prisoner started talking about having suicidal thoughts on the ride from his home to the police station, so officers called for paramedics. Whittington said the prisoner was sitting in the cruiser in front of the police station when Wears put his head inside the car to talk to him. He said the prisoner apparently said or did something that prompted Wears to allegedly slap him and pull him out of the car.
- West Virginia University is getting $5 million from coal company owner Chris Cline. The money will be split between the medical school and basketball program. The medical school's $2 million gift from the Cline Family Foundation goes for an endowed chair in orthopedic surgery. Department of Orthopedic Surgery Dr. Joseph Prudhomme will be the first faculty member appointed to the position. The funds also will allow WVU to receive a $1 million match from a state research trust. $3 million will be spent on a new basketball practice facility being built on the Evansdale Campus. Cline says he wanted to give back to his home state.
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