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Water department operator is charged, dismissed from job

May 30, 2007|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Chief water operator Kevin Hancock, who ran the Town of Bath water department, was dismissed from his job Tuesday by the town council.

Hancock, 44, of 144 McCumbee Lane, was suspended from his duties as director of Berkeley Springs Water Works last week after he was charged with possession of 6 1/2 Percocet pills, a narcotic pain medication and a controlled substance, which police allege he purchased May 21 from former water department employee Bradley Duckwall.

Vince Shambaugh, chief deputy of the Morgan County Sheriff's Department, said the office received a tip that Duckwall was delivering the Percocet to Hancock.

Hancock was charged with aiding and abetting the delivery of a controlled substance, and Duckwall was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, Shambaugh said.

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At Tuesday's special meeting, Bath Mayor Susan J. Webster recommended that Hancock be terminated from his position, and the town council agreed, after going into executive session with Nathan Cochran, attorney with Richard Gay's office, the town's legal counsel, and into executive session with Hancock.

"He (Hancock) held such a responsible position, and we had to let him go," Webster said.

Jim Close is the acting chief water operator, she said.

"We are taking applications for a new manager," Webster said. "Jim Close and Terry Lantz have kept the water department going."

Hancock, who ran the water department since September 2002, declined to comment Tuesday morning on the advice of his attorney. A preliminary hearing in Morgan County magistrate court is set for Thursday.

According to Shambaugh's police report, Deputy Seth Place stopped Duckwall on Harrison Street and told him the sheriff's department knew about the transaction. Duckwall was searched, and Place found 6 1/2 Percocet pills.

Duckwall told Place he received $70 earlier from Hancock, according to the report.

Shambaugh said Place asked Duckwall to go forward with the transaction, which he did, and which Place observed from Wilkes and Fairfax streets. The water department is on Wilkes Street.

Hancock drove away in a town-owned vehicle when Place attempted to stop him, according to the report, but got caught in traffic at a red light and pulled over onto the shoulder. The deputy searched and found the Percocet pills in Hancock's pocket, police said.

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