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Carlberg to plead guilty

January 22, 2001

Carlberg to plead guilty



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The publisher of a Martinsburg newspaper that is no longer publishing will plead guilty to 18 felonies and will serve four months in jail under a plea agreement made public in Berkeley County Circuit Court Monday.

Before the plea agreement can go forward, Judith Carlberg must present $76,000 to Berkeley County Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes on March 21, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Monday.

"That's a chunk of change. We want to see the money before we do anything else," Games-Neely said.

Carlberg, who helped start the newspaper The Paper in 1998, was indicted in 1999 on 18 felony charges of obtaining services through false premises.

The 18 counts represent 18 former employees who prosecutors say were promised wages but were never paid, according to court documents.

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The Paper operated from June through November 1998 in an office in Berkeley Plaza along U.S. 11 North.

Under the plea agreement, Carlberg will receive a 2- to 20-year prison sentence, but the sentence will be suspended and she will instead serve four months in jail, Games-Neely said. Carlberg also will receive five years probation, she said.

If Carlberg is not able to present the $76,000 to Wilkes on March 21, the agreement is off and she will face trial within a week, Games-Neely said. The money is expected to come through a third-party annuity, Games-Neely said.

Court documents allege Carlberg owes employees about $314,000 in wages, an estimation that was done by the state Division of Labor.

About 40 people worked at the paper, but not all wanted to press criminal charges. That meant between $150,000 and $172,000 in back wages would be sought from Carlberg. The exact amount of back wages to be paid is still being determined, Games-Neely said.

The amount Games-Neely obtains from Carlberg will be credited against the $314,000 the Division of Labor estimated, Games-Neely said. It will be up to the Division of Labor to deal with the outstanding amount, Games-Neely said.

Under Monday's proposed plea agreement, Carlberg will have to pay an additional $96,000 in 2003 as part of the agreement, the prosecutor said.

Carlberg, who is free on bail, was in the courtroom Monday.

Her attorney, Craig Manford, could not be reached for comment.

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