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Riffle wants prosecutor disqualified

June 06, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Morgan County magistrate charged with faking a February attack in her office has asked a judge to disqualify the Morgan County Prosecutor's Office from trying her case in court.

Bonnie Riffle was suspended from the bench after she was charged in April with a seven-count grand jury indictment that includes allegations she falsified a police report in an attempt to collect workers' compensation.

Riffle has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A motion filed in Morgan County Circuit Court by Riffle's attorney on Friday now seeks to "ensure a fair trial" by preventing Morgan County Prosecutor David Savasten and his office from handling the prosecution of the case.

The three-page motion lists several reasons for the request, including claims that Riffle recently testified in Martinsburg in a federal civil court case in which Savasten was one of the defendants.

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A jury found in Savasten's favor in the case, according to federal court documents.

Riffle's disqualification motion, filed by Martinsburg attorney Paul Lane, also states she arraigned Savasten's son in Morgan County Magistrate Court in February on a criminal matter.

Savasten could not be reached for comment on the disqualification request.

Riffle also claims the Morgan County Prosecutor's Office has a conflict of interest in the case.

Savasten initially represented Riffle as a victim following her claim she was beaten Feb. 16 while she was working in the Morgan County Courthouse, according to the motion.

A subsequent investigation by the West Virginia State Police, however, resulted in Savasten filing criminal charges against Riffle.

Riffle is charged with two felony counts of workers' compensation fraud, two misdemeanor counts of filing a false incident report and three misdemeanor counts 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, said Savasten.

Riffle is currently free on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond pending her Aug. 3 trial date.

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