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W.Va. man calls for investigation of office

July 15, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A local resident asked the Jefferson County Commissioners on Thursday to investigate two members of the county Prosecuting Attorney's Office for alleged misconduct.

Daniel Lutz said he wants the commissioners to investigate Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bernice Weinstein for alleged "professional misconduct" and "the prosecuting attorney himself" for alleged misconduct.

Lutz, who has been active in the Democratic party and worked on Charlotte Pritt's unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1996, said he also wanted the commissioners to review an embezzlement case at the Jefferson County Public Service District in which $200,000 was taken.

Vivian Walters, who worked as a bookkeeper at the utility company, pleaded guilty to embezzlement but was not ordered to make restitution.

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"Our county can't stand these kinds of losses," Lutz told the commissioners.

Lutz said he did not feel comfortable going into detail about his allegations. He told the commissioners he could provide them with a written, detailed description of the allegations by Monday.

Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson, who was at the commissioners meeting, said he was puzzled over Lutz's comments.

"I'm not quite sure what it is Mr. Lutz is asking the county commission to investigate," Thompson said.

Weinstein could not be reached for comment.

Commission President James Ruland said the commissioners would have to review the law to determine if they should be involved in such a request.

The commission will review the issue again in two weeks, Ruland said.

The commission has the authority to discipline or remove elected officials, except circuit judges, said Lutz.

Thompson said the commissioners cannot discipline anyone in his office, but they can institute removal proceedings.

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