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Martinsburg man charged with 48 counts of child pornography

May 26, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A former American Red Cross worker accused of embezzling more than $30,000 from the Eastern Panhandle chapter of the agency now faces child pornography charges.

Samuel K. Bunner, 37, of 223 Brilliant Stone Drive in Martinsburg, was charged with 48 felony counts of knowingly possessing material visually portraying a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to an arrest warrant issued Wednesday by Berkeley County Magistrate W. Randy Smith.

Bunner was arraigned Tuesday on 87 felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and has since been released from Eastern Regional Jail after posting bail, according to magistrate court and jail records.

The child pornography allegations surfaced during the course of a credit card fraud investigation by West Virginia State Police Cpl. J.M. Walker, according to court records.

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Bunner is alleged to have "cashed out" prepaid debit cards between August 2009 and February 2010 that were supposed to be given to disaster victims, according to court records.

The transactions in question were concealed with fictitious documentation of victims who did not exist and natural disasters that did not happen, according to court records.

The alleged theft was not discovered until after Bunner was let go from his job at the Red Cross chapter's Martinsburg office at 155 N. Queen St. when pornography was found on his work computer, according court records.

In statements to police, Bunner denied images of child pornography on the computer belonged to him and indicated other people had access to the computer, according to a complaint filed by Walker in magistrate court.

A subsequent examination of a jump drive belonging to Bunner led to the discovery of 48 child pornography images, according to court records.

When questioned about the child pornography images that were identified by State Police Sgt. D.E. Boober, Bunner told police that he received them in e-mail from two of his Yahoo Group accounts and meant to delete them, according to court records.

Bunner, who was the director of emergency services for the agency, told police that he stole the money because he had a gambling problem, according to court records.

Bunner was authorized to issue the prepaid debit cards to victims of natural disasters, as well as "load" the cards with Red Cross money and activate them through an online system, according to court records.

The credit card fraud case involving Bunner comes a little more than two years after Jonathon A. Jarrell, a former executive director of the Berkeley County chapter of the Red Cross was sentenced in May 2008 for embezzling more than $12,000.

In 2007, the Berkeley County chapter of the Red Cross merged with the chapter for Jefferson and Morgan counties to form the Eastern Panhandle group.

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