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Indicted Morgan County magistrate suspended

April 16, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Morgan County magistrate indicted on charges of workers' compensation fraud has been suspended from the bench.

Berkeley County Circuit Court Judge David Sanders ordered Bonnie Riffle to turn in her badge and courthouse keys and barred her from performing any of her magistrate duties, according to an order signed Thursday by Sanders.

"It was something that had to be done to maintain public confidence in the institution," said Sanders, who is by law Riffle's supervisor.

Riffle was named this week in a seven-count Morgan County grand jury indictment that alleges she faked an attack in her office in February and filed a false workers' compensation claim.

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A preliminary hearing is scheduled Monday morning in Morgan County Circuit Court, where Riffle will be formally charged and bond will be set in the case.

Paul Lane, Riffle's attorney, has said Riffle maintains her innocence and that she was "devastated" by the allegations.

Sanders said the decision to suspend Riffle was the first time in his seven years as a Circuit Court judge that he has taken a magistrate off the bench.

Riffle also faces two misdemeanor charges of filing a false incident report and three misdemeanor charges of giving false information to a state trooper.

Conviction on a felony charge of workers' compensation fraud carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, Savasten said.

Riffle, one of two Morgan County magistrates, was elected in 1992.

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