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Host of troopers testifies in former sergeant's trial

August 03, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Fifteen current or former West Virginia State Police officers testified Wednesday in the federal government's mail fraud case against retired Martinsburg detachment commander George William Bradshaw III, but none of them directly implicated him.

But assistant U.S. Attorney Paul T. Camilletti appeared to use their testimony to repeatedly show jurors seated for the trial in Martinsburg how Bradshaw, of 614 E. Moler Ave. in Martinsburg, allegedly manipulated reports used to track various amounts of cash seized by investigating officers for his own personal gain. Indicted in November on one count of mail fraud, Bradshaw was the detachment's "evidence custodian" when money taken from alleged drug dealers and others arrested between 1999 and 2002 disappeared, authorities have said. An audit later confirmed $18,542 was missing from 20 cases.

On Wednesday, former State Police Sgt. Dave D. Forman testified that a typed, and apparently fake, version of an evidence log form retrieved from a 2001 case file, bore his initials - DDF.

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He specifically noted the F did not appear how he would write it - like the numeral seven - on a legitimate handwritten version of the form.

"They're supposed to be my initials, but I didn't write them," said Forman, who resigned late last year before being indicted on one count of mail fraud in an unrelated case. Forman later agreed to cooperate with the authorities as part of a plea agreement to resolve the indictment.

An FBI handwriting expert who returned to the witness stand Wednesday acknowledged she could not make a determination as to the authorship of certain portions of the documents in question, including initials and other filing notations and case numbers.

"This was a hard examination for me to do," said Marguerite McHenry, a forensic document examiner.

McHenry's examination also included two similarly prepared evidence destruction orders, which she said included visible indentations of characters from one document on the other and in the same area.

In questioning by defense attorney Craig Manford, McHenry acknowledged that one order could have been simply written while on top of the other.

The government's case against Bradshaw alleges forms used to document seized property and cash were replaced with altered or fraudulent forms and mailed to the agency's headquarters in South Charleston, W.Va.

Trooper Keith Martin, now with the Moorefield-Petersburg detachment, testified that a man he initially investigated for burglary in August 1999, was not questioned in a DUI case as an evidence log sheet stated.

Trooper Edward B. Starcher told jurors his initials also were apparently forged on documentation filed for a 1999 drug case and references to a blood alcohol kit also were false.

Current detachment commander Sgt. Eric D. Burnett testified documentation linked to a 2000 drug case was similarly faked.

And on two other instances, officers confirmed a duped document rivaling their version had slightly different case numbers.

Now a State Police senior investigator based in Fairmont, W.Va., Sgt. Joseph R. Adams explained how the evidence room at the detachment was managed while he was assistant detachment commander in Martinsburg.

"When I left, (the room) was cleaned up and squared away ... It was in pretty good shape," Adams said in response to questioning by Manford.

Berkeley Springs, W.Va., detachment commander Sgt. Carl A. Mahood, meanwhile, testified Wednesday that virtually nothing was out of order at the Berkeley Springs detachment when he replaced Bradshaw there while the accused assumed the same leadership post in Martinsburg.

In cross-examination by Manford, Starcher acknowledged that he, Bradshaw and former assistant detachment commander Timothy C. Krisik had access to the evidence room, where seized cash was not supposed to be stored.

Retired State Police Lt. Fred E. Wagoner testified Tuesday that $110 in cash seized as part of a 1999 case was discovered in the evidence room. The cash was found inside an envelope, which contained a smaller white package that contained half the amount. The amount initially seized was $55, police have said.

Manford contends his client is a victim of circumstantial evidence and Wagoner confirmed Tuesday that Bradshaw told him he was set up.

Through three days of proceedings, Bradshaw has appeared relatively relaxed in the courtroom and two sisters and other family members have watched from the gallery.

Camilletti told Judge W. Craig Broadwater he expected to call four more witnesses to the stand, including FBI agent Rag West and "case agent" State Police Sgt. Scott T. Dillon.

Manford said he expected to call at least four witnesses, possibly five in his client's defense.

Bradshaw could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison and fined $250,000 if convicted of the mail fraud charge.

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