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Man facing porn and theft charges waives right to preliminary hearing

January 18, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A former American Red Cross worker facing child pornography charges waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

Samuel K. Bunner, 38, of Martinsburg, is charged with 48 felony counts of knowingly possessing material visually portraying a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Bunner also was separately charged with 87 felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, charges that are pending in circuit court.

Following Tuesday's action, the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney's office now can present state's evidence in the case  to a grand jury for possible indictment.

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

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 were concealed with fictitious documentation of victims who did not exist and natural disasters that did not occurr, according to court records.

The alleged theft was not discovered until after Bunner was let go from his job at the Martinsburg office of the Red Cross when pornography was found on his work computer, according to 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 in magistrate court.

When questioned about the child pornography images, 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 Red Cross, 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.

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