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Former Berkeley County deputy pleads no contest in bar brawl

Morales entered pleas to public intoxication, destruction of property and battery

Morales entered pleas to public intoxication, destruction of property and battery

February 13, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A former Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputy who resigned in November after facing charges related to a bar fight entered no-contest pleas to three misdemeanor charges Tuesday in magistrate court.

Xavier Elias Morales, 25, entered pleas to public intoxication, destruction of property and battery. He was fined $200, ordered to pay $250 in restitution and was placed on six months probation in lieu of a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended.

Two misdemeanor counts of obstructing a police officer and single counts of resisting arrest and assault of a police officer were dismissed, according to the plea agreement, which defense attorney Harley O. Wagner and assistant prosecuting attorney Stephanie Saunders negotiated.

"I'm just pleased we were able to resolve this matter in an expedited fashion to all concerned," Wagner said. "Mr. Morales is a good and decent man who had one bad night."

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Dressed in khaki pants and a black dress shirt, Morales entered the plea before Berkeley County Magistrate Harry L. Snow, who did not comment during the scheduled preliminary hearing.

After the proceeding, Morales said he wanted the opportunity to publicly apologize to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, the community and individuals involved at Piggy's, the club south of Bunker Hill, W.Va., where the fight happened Nov. 18, 2007.

"I don't remember any of it," Morales said of the altercation.

Police said Morales was highly intoxicated and was fighting with several people at the club. A bouncer told deputies that he was bitten by Morales, according to court records.

Morales later threatened to kill his now former boss, Berkeley County Sheriff W. Randy Smith, and destroyed a passenger-side window of a police cruiser while resisting arrest, police said.

"If I could say anything to the public, ... drinking doesn't solve anything," Morales said of the incident.

Since the bar fight, Morales said he has received counseling for alcohol abuse and has quit drinking.

After residing in Berkeley County nearly three years, Morales said he was moving to Florida, his native state.

Morales said he is considering obtaining a bachelor's degree and possibly returning to law enforcement.

He was employed by the sheriff's department for less than a year, and Smith previously indicated in an interview that Morales was a "model" employee until the incident happened.

As part of the plea agreement, Wagner said his client relinquished his right to file any potential civil claims against his former employer.

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