Promotion of three Berkeley County sheriff's deputies will be costly

July 27, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The promotion of three Berkeley County sheriff’s deputies will cost $11,390 in back pay, excluding benefit-related costs, according to the finance division of Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small’s office.

The Berkeley County Council was notified this month of the promotion of Thomas Young to the rank of sergeant, Daniel Steerman to the rank of lieutenant and Scott Myers to rank of corporal, according to memos sent to Small’s office from Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster Jr.

The promotions of Young and Myers were made effective Jan. 21, 2009, and Jan. 6, 2009, respectively. Steerman’s promotion was made effective in June 2009.

The promotions stem from a 23rd Judicial Circuit judge’s ruling in March 2012 that found some sheriff’s deputies were wrongfully promoted since 2009 in violation of state law.

The back pay costs tallied this week do not include a fourth promotion that elevates Sheriff’s Deputy Trent Heckman to the rank of corporal, according to county records.

Myers, who is president of the Berkeley County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, said he and five other deputies spent more than $12,000 in legal fees since the personnel wrangling began in 2009.

Lemaster said Friday he did not know how much his attorney, John R. Teare Jr., of Spilman Thomas & Battle PLLC, was paid to represent him in the case. Lemaster said Berkeley County legal counsel Norwood Bentley III also assisted in the litigation. The county has paid more than $33,000 in fees for professional services to Teare’s law firm since 2009 from one of the sheriff’s law enforcement accounts, according to Small’s office.

Lemaster said Teare also recently assisted in the wrongful termination case filed against him by Deputy P. Shannon Layne. The sheriff previously indicated $40,000 had been included in his 2012-13 budget for the promotions changes.

Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes’ ruling in the case was the result of a petition that Lemaster had Teare file in Berkeley County Circuit Court in February 2011.

Acting on Wilkes’ order, the Berkeley County Deputy Sheriffs’ Civil Service Commission determined four deputies should have been promoted and three were ineligible for promotions they previously received. Sgt. Theodore “Ted” Snyder declined a promotion, making Steerman eligible for one, Myers said.

Deputies Brendan Hall, Trampus Boyles and William Christian were determined to be ineligible for promotions they previously received, according to the Civil Service Commission order.

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