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Berkeley Commission requests flier probe

November 09, 2000

Berkeley Commission requests flier probe



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to ask county Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely to investigate an unsigned pre-election flier centering on alleged activities of Sheriff-elect Randy Smith.

The same flier has prompted Smith to file a formal complaint with the Sheriff's office, alleging the documents to be illegal because they constitute unsigned campaign material. Smith said Thursday he has contacted the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office and will file a complaint with that agency as well.

The allegations center on Smith's activities as an undercover drug investigator for the Sheriff's Office in the mid-1980s. The flier quotes from two letters, intimating an investigation was being done on Smith.

Smith has denied any wrongdoing and said he is tired of having his name and reputation tarnished.

"I'm not going to let this rest," Smith said Thursday. "I'm tired of people talking being my back and whispering behind my back and I'm not going to put up with it. I know I did nothing wrong. Why would I have run for office if I had done something wrong and knew it could come out?"

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Smith said he tried to talk to Jones about the flier after he saw it Friday. Smith said Jones refused repeated attempts to discuss the flier. The letters in the flier were obtained from his personnel file from the time he was a deputy, he alleged.

Jones did not return telephone calls Thursday for comment.

Smith defeated Jones in Tuesday's balloting by a margin of 12,207 to 9,565, or 56 percent to 44 percent.

Capt. Kenneth LeMaster of the Sheriff's Office confirmed the complaint had been filed but said he would not release it because it is not a public record. Smith provided a copy to the newspaper.

"It was referred to the sheriff and he hasn't really discussed it with me," LeMaster said.

The complaint names the person Smith believes is responsible for it, but that person could not be reached for comment. The flier was put in newspaper boxes at residences. Smith's complaint also alleges they were put in mail boxes.

Burkhart lambasted the flier during the commission meeting.

"It was a dirty trick," he said. "I think we should contact the prosecutor's office and have it investigated. It's terrible. We've tried to have everybody run clean campaigns."

Burkhart, like Smith, is a Democrat. But the other two commissioners are Republicans and they voted to turn the matter over to Games-Neely to see what should be done. She could not be reached for comment.

Smith said he was glad the commissioners acted, and said he doesn't want to file legal action.

"I want the system to take care of this," he said. "I don't want to look like a whiner or complainer. I just want it resolved."

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