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Trial set to begin today for former sewer district director

March 06, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The trial of former Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District director Walter H. "Walt" Sebert Jr. is expected to begin today.

Sebert was indicted on one count, alleging that he embezzled more than $31,000 from his employer.

23rd Judicial Circuit judge Christopher C. Wilkes on Monday denied a motion by defense attorney James B. Lees Jr. to dismiss the indictment and a motion to exclude certain evidence in a brief pretrial hearing.

Before adjourning, Wilkes also directed the Circuit Clerk of Berkeley County to call a jury pool of 60 people to appear for the trial, which is expected to last three days.

Sebert is charged with embezzling $31,617.35. A list of more than 200 items allegedly purchased improperly includes a high back chair, $938 in telephone service at his residence, a $53 lambswool sweater, "non-gas items" from an Exxon station and at least one yearly bonus of $2,550, according to the indictment.

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Sebert, of 163 Noel Drive, was originally indicted on 11 counts of counterfeit credit card possession and the lone felony count of embezzlement. He was dismissed from his job in May 2004 by the service district's board of directors for malfeasance, records show.

The 11 counts were dismissed in August after Games-Neely told Wilkes they were wrongly based upon the evidence collected in the investigation of the matter.

Wilkes allowed Games-Neely to retain the right to prosecute Sebert on the embezzlement count after the judge ruled she could not amend the indictment to correct wording.

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