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Prosecutor disqualified in Riffle case

June 27, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Morgan County Prosecutor's Office has been disqualified from trying the case of a Morgan County magistrate charged with faking an attack in her office earlier this year.

Bonnie Riffle was placed on suspension after a grand jury indicted her on several charges, including allegations she falsified a police report in February in an attempt to collect workers' compensation.

Riffle has pleaded not guilty to the allegations and is scheduled to stand trial on the charges in August.

Morgan County Circuit Court Judge Donald Cookman last week granted a request from Riffle's defense attorney, Paul Lane of Martinsburg, to appoint a new prosecutor in the case.

Pendleton County Prosecutor Jerry D. Moore was appointed by the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute to replace Morgan County Prosecutor David Savasten, according to a June 25 order signed by Cookman.

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Lane had argued Morgan County Prosecutor David Savasten and his office should be removed from the case for several reasons, including claims that Riffle testified in Martinsburg earlier this year in a federal civil court case in which Savasten was one of the defendants.

Lane also claimed the Morgan County Prosecutor's Office has a conflict of interest in the case because Savasten initially represented Riffle as a victim following her claims she was beaten Feb. 16 while she was working in the Morgan County Courthouse, according to the motion filed by Lane.

A subsequent investigation by the West Virginia State Police 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.

Riffle is currently free on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.

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