WILLIAMSON - Nearly seven years after an employee of the Mingo County Circuit Clerk’s office was charged with petit larceny by embezzlement in the workplace, a “no contest” plea has been entered and accepted, allowing the case to be closed.
Brenda Hunt, 47, a veteran employee of the circuit clerk’s office, was accused of unlawfully and fraudulently converting money that was placed under her care by virtue of her employment to her own use. In 2007, a special prosecutor (Sidney H. Bell of McDowell County) was assigned to the case and moved forward with the charges after an audit allegedly disclosed that Hunt had accepted cash for various fees charged by the clerk’s office and had reportedly kept it, altering the receipts to falsely show the fees had not been paid.
According to court records connected to the case, surveillance cameras allegedly captured Hunt going into the circuit clerk’s office on several occasions after hours, and it is believed that she altered the books during this time. The exact amount that was allegedly embezzled has not been disclosed, nor was the exact time period of the crimes.
Hunt was served with an arrest warrant in 2009 and voluntarily appeared before a Mingo County Magistrate after a letter from the County Commission was sent to the prosecutor handling the case, making it appear that a plea agreement was possible. According to court documents, Hunt entered a “Kennedy vs. Frazier” guilty plea to one misdemeanor charge of petit larceny by embezzlement and agreed to waive her right to assert the statute of limitations. She also is said to have agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $900 and further agreed to not attempt to have her former employer reinstate her or to seek back pay or other damages associated with her termination. She was asked to submit a formal, written resignation from the position of deputy clerk that she once held.
The state of West Virginia is barred, under the agreement, from seeking any further criminal charges for any alleged acts that may have occurred during the time the defendant was employed by the county. Bell retired from his position before anything could be finalized in this matter, and the case was assigned to Prosecutor Edward Kornish, which also played a part in the delay of the plea agreement.
In her recent appearance in magistrate court before Senior Status Magistrate Kim Blair, Hunt entered a “no contest” plea to the embezzlement charge and was ordered to make restitution to the circuit clerk’s office as previously agreed.