Former W.Va. Division of Highways worker accused of stealing from agency

July 12, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The West Virginia State Police seized property estimated to be worth about $200,000 Thursday from a former state Division of Highways worker accused of stealing from the agency, according to court records.

William Robert Smallwood, 55, of 135 Myers Bridge Road, Martinsburg, was arraigned Friday morning by Berkeley County Magistrate JoAnn Overington on one felony count of obtaining property by false pretenses.

Smallwood, who worked as a storekeeper for the highway division’s District 5 operations in Berkeley County, is no longer employed with the agency, West Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker said Friday.

Smallwood had been employed with the division for 33 years, Walker said.

State police Sgt. J.D. Burkhart said Friday that Smallwood was responsible for purchasing equipment and supplies in the position he had held.

State police Cpl. Z.L. Nine said in a complaint filed against the defendant that he received an anonymous telephone call on July 5 about property at 3593 Greensburg Road that was believed to have been stolen by Smallwood from the highways division, according to court documents.

On Thursday, the Greensburg Road property owner told the trooper that she allowed the defendant to store property in her garage within the last few months, but did not know what the items were or where they were from, the court documents said.

Nine informed the property owner that items believed to have been stolen were in the background of a photograph that she posted on the Internet for a dirt-bike advertisement, the documents said.

In the garage, police found a new plasma cutter worth about $4,000, as well as several boxes of shipping and product labels addressed to the Martinsburg Division of Highways  “in care of” Bill Smallwood, among other items, the documents said.

The amount of items recovered had to be transported on two, large flat-bed trailers and a pickup truck, the documents said.

Police found shipping labels for the highways division and other items used and purchased by the state agency’s Martinsburg office after searching Smallwood’s residence and a mechanic shop attached to his home, the documents said.

The items at the defendant’s residence were loaded onto two highways division trucks and a police cruiser, the documents said.

The total value of the recovered property was estimated to be worth about $200,000, the documents said.

Nine was off-duty Friday, but other troopers involved in the investigation said the defendant obtained the property over a number of years.

The case remains under investigation, police said.

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