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Attorney: Idoni gave up right to council position

February 11, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An attorney representing the City of Martinsburg said Thursday night that Frank Idoni forfeited his right to hold public office when he pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge earlier this week.

Attorney Andy Blake read aloud a section of state code that indicates such a conviction "entails a forfeiture of the office held by the person convicted, (and that person) shall be removed from office by Judgement of the court. ..."

Idoni, 47, of 112 Union Ave., was elected in June 2004 as a city councilman to represent the city's Ward 5 residents.

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The city now may move forward with filling Idoni's seat, but Blake advised Mayor George Karos and other city officials to hold off on doing so until after Idoni is sentenced April 4.

At that time, Circuit Judge David Sanders could withdraw Idoni's conviction and schedule the case to be heard by a jury, but Blake said the chances of that happening are slim.

Karos said after the meeting that he already has heard from people from both political parties about the Council seat.

He also said a person living in Idoni's ward mentioned the name of a possible replacement.

Anyone interested in filling the seat must live in Ward 5, Blake said.

Idoni did not attend the meeting.

Blake said he considers the forfeiture to have taken effect on Monday, when Idoni pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance and no contest to a charge of battery. Sanders filed a formal conviction order on Wednesday, he said.

At the hearing Monday, Idoni admitted to Sanders that, in January, he sold a prescription Fentanyl patch to a man for $200. Idoni said the buyer told him he wanted the patch for a friend who was suffering from pain.

The buyer was a police informant and the drug transaction was monitored using video and audio surveillance equipment, police have said.

Fentanyl is prescribed to help alleviate chronic pain.

The battery charged stemmed from an incident in October 2004 in which Idoni allegedly spit on and punched a teenager whom he felt was driving too fast through his neighborhood.

Under the terms of the plea bargain to which Idoni agreed, a second charge of delivery of a controlled substance was dismissed. Also as part of the plea bargain, Idoni will be sentenced to serve a five-year probation sentence, which can be transferred to another state.

Idoni's attorney, Kevin Mills, has said that Idoni plans to move elsewhere to "get a fresh start."

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