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Jefferson Co. OEM chief charged

July 04, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The longtime director of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management was charged Tuesday with allegedly obtaining more than $3,600 through fraudulent means, according to charging documents.

Darrell Penwell, 52, faces a charge of fraudulent schemes, which carries a possible punishment of one to 10 years in jail, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober.

Penwell was arraigned Tuesday night by Jefferson County Magistrate Gail Boober, who set bond at $25,000. Penwell posted the bond and was released.

Penwell is a longtime county employee, overseeing 911 operations and handling other duties, like coordinating relief for weather-related incidents like floods.

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Ed Boober said in a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Magistrate Court that he received information about "irregular activities" regarding the use of a county gas credit card that was assigned to Penwell.

On six occasions, Penwell, of 50 Jefferson Ave., Charles Town, allegedly used a Jefferson County vehicle and gas credit card to travel to meetings and other functions in other parts of the state, according to Ed Boober's complaint.

Penwell would submit a state travel expense account settlement for payment for the use of his personal vehicle, the complaint states.

On four occasions, Penwell allegedly used his personal vehicle to travel to meetings and other functions in the state and used a Jefferson County Commission-issued Sheetz gas card and "Master Charge" card to buy gas, lodging and meals for travel, according to the complaint.

Penwell then submitted a state travel expense account settlement requesting reimbursement for expenses that the county commission had already paid for, the complaint states.

The incidents occurred between December 2000 and May of this year, according to Ed Boober's complaint.

Penwell has been placed on suspension without pay pending the outcome of the case, Ed Boober said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

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