The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 20, 2013

Mayor’s state ethics hearing set for May 1

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

— After several delays, Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh’s ethics hearing will be held May 1, according to Theresa Kirk, executive director of the West Virginia Ethics Commission.

A status conference was held Monday to schedule the new date; Kirk said the location and time have not yet been decided.

The hearing was previously scheduled for Jan. 28, but Martin J. Wright Jr., deputy counsel for the Ethics Commission, left the agency earlier in the month to accept a position in the West Virginia Attorney General’s office.

Pugh told The Register-Herald that a new attorney would have to be assigned to the case and he or she would have to get caught up on the proceedings.

Pugh expressed his disappointment, as he said he was ready to present his case.

He is charged with nine counts of ethics violations, including the use of public office for private gain, accepting improper gifts, use of a public office for own private gain and private gain of another and prohibited interest in public contracts.

The complaint alleges that in return for providing public contracts with the city of Beckley and free use of the city’s resources, including material and labor, Pugh was “financially rewarded with gifted ownership interests in companies resulting in private gain of more than $12,000.”

Pugh allegedly also inappropriately used a vehicle leased under the Beckley Sanitary Board, according to the Probable Cause Review Board.

The allegations were initially made public knowledge last April and Kirk had initially anticipated a September hearing. In early October, the commission announced a Jan. 28 hearing date.

The location and time of the May 1 hearing will be posted online at www.ethics.wv.gov when it has been selected.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com