The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 26, 2013

Former chief public defender pleads not guilty to embezzlement

LEWISBURG — The former chief of the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Public Defender office was arraigned Tuesday, pleading not guilty to an embezzlement charge.

Denney William Bostic, 54, is accused of making personal use of a credit card issued to him as chief public defender for a circuit that includes Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.

The alleged embezzlement took place between March 5, 2010, and Aug. 5, 2011, according to a felony indictment returned by a Greenbrier County grand jury earlier this month. The indictment puts the amount of money at issue at more than $1,000, but does not specify an exact amount.

Now living with his sister in Wilmington, N.C., Bostic appeared in court without legal representation Tuesday afternoon but with an affidavit in hand requesting the court appoint counsel to represent him.

Asked by special Judge John Hrko, “Are you a lawyer?” a subdued Bostic responded, “I was.”

The defendant explained to the judge, “I voluntarily surrendered my license, your honor.”

Bostic gave up his law license in October 2011 after leaving the Public Defender’s office.

When Hrko further asked if Bostic would have any problem with someone from the Public Defender’s office being appointed to represent him in the matter currently before the court, Bostic said, “I would say they have a problem with that. I was (at one time) the boss over everyone in that office.”

Ultimately, Hrko, a senior status judge who was appointed to hear this case June 11, appointed E. Lavoyd Morgan Jr. to represent Bostic.

“I’ve got a good professional relationship with him,” Bostic told the court.

The appointment of counsel raised a new problem, however, as Hrko told Bostic, “Now that I’ve appointed counsel for you, I feel just a little bit uncomfortable arraigning you without him here.”

Fortunately, Morgan was scheduled to be in court representing another client later in the afternoon and a cell phone call from the courtroom by special Prosecutor Justin St. Clair brought the attorney to the courthouse posthaste, allowing the arraignment to proceed.

After conferring with his attorney, Bostic waived the reading of the indictment and entered a plea of not guilty to the embezzlement charge.

The judge explained that the penalty, if Bostic were convicted of the felony offense as charged, would be one to 10 years in the penitentiary or, at the court’s discretion, up to one year in a regional jail and a $2,500 fine.

Upon the prosecutor’s recommendation, Hrko set a personal recognizance bond in the amount of $5,000 for Bostic.

“It’s kind of obvious (Bostic) will appear; he appeared here today,” Hrko commented in setting bond.

Having been assured the Greenbrier County Circuit Court docket would allow such prompt scheduling of proceedings, the judge set a pre-trial date of Sept. 13 and a trial for Sept. 30, but also addressed the possibility of the two sides reaching a plea agreement.

Hrko promised a swift response to such an agreement, with the caveat that the plea hearing must be held in Greenbrier County, where the charges were brought.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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