As reported in the Register-Herald this morning, a felony charge against Raleigh County deputy Randy Burgess was dismissed during his Monday preliminary hearing. He was charged with writing a worthless check for “multiple thousands” of dollars.
No big surprise here. Several things to note: (1) A special prosecutor was appointed. That should tell you something. The prosecutors office will not even prosecute a local member of law enforcement. They may say this is a standard conflict, but it shouldn’t be. (2) The charge was dismissed at the preliminary hearing at the request of the special prosecutor after “discussions with the sheriff’s department led him to believe the state ‘didn’t have a case.”
Yeah right. First off, why would the sheriff’s department be investigating one of their own? Shouldn’t the state police be conducting this investigation? Why would you rely on this as a “special” prosecutor? And how could you possibly not have a case in a worthless check case? These are the most open and shut cases that could ever exist. The check was written, the guy signed it, and the bank has all the records. What else do you need?
They should at least be honest. They dismissed the charges because he is a cop. It’s that simple. In the case where Joe Blow is charged under the same circumstances, do you think a prosecutor would speak with the sheriff’s department, and come to a conclusion that there “is no case,” and just request dismissal of the charges? Hell no. Even if the prosecutor thought that, he would offer a plea to a misdemeanor.
Someone should tell “special” prosecutor Tim Boggess from Mercer County that he represents the citizens of West Virginia, not the cops, and the citizens have a right to know why he requested dismissal of the charges. Why for the first time in history was there “no case” in a worthless check case? Has this been explained to the victim? Or is there no such thing as a victim when the perpetrator is a cop?
Once again, I’m a lone voice shouting in the wind that there is a double standard at play here. And the problem is the prosecutors – with the “special” prosecutors being the worst of all, because they are not accountable to the elected public. Do you see a trend here? Cop breaks law; elected prosecutor withdraws and requests special prosecutor; special prosecutor either dismisses charge or gives sweetheart deal; elected prosecutor walks away clean.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.