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Town of Bath police chief resigns

April 04, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The Town of Bath's police chief has resigned, Mayor Susan J. Webster announced this week.

James Minton submitted his letter of resignation March 28, Webster said. It was effective immediately.

"We appreciate the hard work he put into the police department, particularly with the K-9 unit and the auxiliary reserve. I wish him well," she said Wednesday.

Sgt. S.E. Davis, Berkeley Springs detachment commander of the West Virginia State Police, said Thursday that Webster had asked him to investigate the possibility of the misappropriation of town funds by Minton.

Davis said his investigation found that $400 from the town parking meters, which is supposed to be placed into the town's general fund, was instead put into the police department's petty cash fund.

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The money was used for the newly formed police reserves "to repair and equip the reserve vehicles," said Davis. He said all the financial activities were documented.

"The funds never left the Town of Bath," Davis said. "It appears to me this was an administrative matter."

The documents were turned over to the prosecuting attorney, and the matter is pending, Davis said.

Debra MH McLaughlin, Morgan County prosecuting attorney, said she has not reviewed the documents.

Cpl. Craig Pearrell, a full-time police officer on the force, is "stepping in to help" with the administrative duties, Webster said. Pearrell is the ranking officer, but he has not been named acting police chief, she said.

All the employees are filling in, and the council is assessing the department before naming a new chief, Webster said.

Minton was appointed police chief in December 2006. He was earning a little more than $31,000 a year when he started. Minton did not respond to phone calls requesting a comment.

The Town of Bath is the municipality within Berkeley Springs.

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