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Jefferson County assistant prosecuting attorney pleads not guilty to drug charges

James Casimiro III was terminated from his job Wednesday

August 07, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Jefferson County assistant prosecuting attorney who pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court to drug distribution charges was sent a job-termination letter Wednesday, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Ralph Lorenzetti said.

James Casimiro III, 37, of Charles Town, W.Va., was terminated as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Lorenzetti said.

The letter was mailed Wednesday to Casimiro, who was suspended without pay at the time of his arrest last month, and it also was being faxed to his attorney, Lorenzetti said.

Casimiro is charged with two counts of distribution of oxycodone in Jefferson County on May 31 and June 25, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg.

Magistrate David Joel set Casimiro’s trial for Sept. 24 in a brief arraignment hearing. Casimiro’s attorney, Michael D. Payne of Charleston, W.Va., declined to comment.

Prosecutors allege Casimiro sold an unspecified amount of the often-abused prescription drug for $300 to a person known to the federal grand jury, the indictment said.

Oxycodone, known by the brand name OxyContin, is among a group of Schedule II controlled substances, which have a high potential for abuse that might lead to severe psychological or physical dependence, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Payne entered the plea on Casimiro’s behalf.

Payne did say he was retained by the defendant. Payne was substituted as Casimiro’s attorney on Friday, according to court documents. Payne replaced public defender Nicholas J. Compton, who was initially appointed to the case.

Joel allowed Casimiro to remain out of jail and to continue on personal recognizance bond conditions, which were set in the defendant’s initial court appearance on July 25.

District Judge Gina M. Groh, who once served as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Jefferson County, separately recused herself from the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul T. Camilletti, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment Wednesday.

Chief Judge John Preston Bailey is set to preside in Casimiro’s trial in Elkins, W.Va., Joel said.

Casimiro has been employed with the prosecuting attorney’s office since October 2006, said Lorenzetti, who was elected to his post in 2008.

Casimiro was primarily handling abuse and neglect, and juvenile cases, and previously worked on magistrate court cases and the county’s planning and zoning matters, Lorenzetti said.

Lorenzetti said he was aware that Casimiro had some medical problems.

“The last few months, we had some concerns about his timeliness,” Lorenzetti said. “He seemed to be getting ill quite a bit.”

Casimiro was admitted to the West Virginia State Bar in April 2002, according to the organization’s online membership directory.

Lorenzetti said Casimiro clerked for 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes prior to coming to work for the prosecuting attorney’s office when Mike Thompson was the county prosecutor.

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