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Plea deal possible in Jefferson Co. fraudulent scheme case

October 24, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A case involving the former director of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management who is charged with receiving more than $3,600 in fraudulently obtained money might be resolved through a plea agreement, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Special prosecutor Dan James said he has been talking with Darrell Penwell's attorney and there could be a deal worked out where Penwell could enter a plea to a lesser misdemeanor charge.

Under the possible deal, Penwell would pay back the full amount of money, James said.

The case could involve a two-year probationary period for Penwell and a suspended jail sentence, James said.

James talked about the case after a preliminary hearing for Penwell that was continued Tuesday before Jefferson County Magistrate Bill Senseney.

James said he will consult with state officials to determine how they feel about a possible plea agreement.

An agreement could be reached in 30 to 45 days, James said.

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Penwell's attorney, public defender Jim Kent, did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Penwell, of 50 Jefferson Ave., Charles Town, was a longtime county employee involved in 911 operations and helping the county deal with weather-related incidents like floods.

Penwell, who attended Tuesday's hearing, was charged with fraudulent schemes in July. Because the amount of money in the case involved more than $1,000, it was a felony charge which carries a possible punishment of one to 10 years in jail, said James, an assistant prosecutor from Morgan County who was assigned to the case.

Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said in a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Magistrate Court that Penwell 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 Boober's complaint.

The complaint alleges Penwell submitted travel voucher requests to the state for gas, lodging and mileage for which he was already paid.

The incidents occurred between December 2000 and May of this year, according to the complaint.

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