Former Mason County Sheriff David Anthony II, foreground, exits the courtroom after entering a plea agreement to four counts of a 42-count indictment returned against him in January. The pleas agreement called for Anthony both resigning as sheriff, and dropping his bid for re-election which negated a scheduled hearing next month by a three-judge panel to consider a petition filed by the county comission for his impechment, and removal from office. (Photo by Lawrence Smith)
POINT PLEASANT – The law enforcement career of one West Virginia sheriff has come to end following his resignation from office, and entering pleas to charges he both endangered the life of his son and defrauded the county.
David Lee Anthony II appeared in Mason Circuit Court March 6 to plead guilty to four charges of the 42-count indictment returned against him in January by the grand jury. In tendering his plea, Anthony, 42, agreed to plead guilty to charges of brandishing, and shooting near a dwelling and no contest to charges of fraudulent scheme and embezzlement, all misdemeanors.
The brandishing, and shooting near a dwelling charges stemmed from an incident that occurred Nov. 5 at Anthony’s residence on Juniper Lane in Point Pleasant where he fired a .45 caliber pistol over the head of his 13-year-old son, Dawson, as he exited the house, and was running down the stairs of the back deck. The incident was witnessed by two uniformed deputies, Curtis Rhodes and Terry Powell, who later State Police Anthony was drunk at the time.
As a result of the shooting, Anthony was arrested on Nov. 11, and initially charged with wanton endangerment. The indictment included the wanton endangerment, brandishing and shooting charges along with domestic assault and child neglect creating risk of injury.
The indictment included 19 counts of embezzlement, 18 counts of unauthorized use of a purchasing card, and one count fraudulent scheme. Those charges stemmed from Anthony using the Sheriff’s Office state-issued purchasing card between Feb. 27 and April 13, 2011, for a personal trip to Orlando, Fla.
When informing Judge David W. Nibert what the state intended to prove by Anthony’s guilty plea, Mason Prosecutor Damon Morgan said a routine audit by the state Auditor’s Office discovered $2,435.68 in questionable purchases. Initially, Anthony claimed they were for a law enforcement-related conference.
When asked to give details of the conference, all Anthony could provide, Morgan said, was floor plan of the hotel where the conference was supposedly held. An investigation discovered not only did the hotel not host a law enforcement conference, but also no conference of any sort was held during the time in question.
Eventually, Anthony admitted the purchases were personal, and returned $1,400 to the county’s general revenue fund, and paid the remainder though a payroll deduction. The embezzlement charge to which Anthony pleaded no contest stemmed from $200 from he took from his Office’s cash drawer to cover meals for the Florida trip.
As part of the agreement, Anthony agreed to immediately resign as sheriff, and surrender his law enforcement certification. The resignation brought to a close a 22-year career in law enforcement which began on May 25, 1990 when he was first hired as a deputy sheriff.
Also, Anthony agreed to withdraw his candidacy for re-election as sheriff. Despite the indictment, Anthony, who took temporary leave as sheriff while he underwent court-ordered rehabilitation, and was prohibited from carrying a firearm due to a domestic violence restraining order, filed for re-election near the end of the filing period in January.
A Democrat, Anthony defeated his Republican opponent Ernie Watterson, a former sheriff and current Point Pleasant police chief, in 2008. Prior to his withdrawal, Anthony faced a crowded primary battle with Point Pleasant residents Gregory Powers and James Will, and Donnie Kapp from Apple Grove also seeking the Democratic nomination in the May 8 primary.
Anthony’s resignation, and plea agreement not only voids a trial previously scheduled for April 10, but also a hearing by a three-judge panel the following week on a petition filed by the Mason County Commission for his impeachment, and removal from office. In its petition, the Commission cited four counts of malfeasance of office as grounds for Anthony’s removal that include the charges specified in the January indictment along with applying for and receiving grant money without the Commission’s knowledge or consent.
Commission President Rick Handley, who was in attendance at the hearing, said he and the other commissioners would be meeting with Ripley attorneys Kevin Harris and Eric Holmes to receive a bill for their services in filing the petition. The Commission was expected to hire a temporary replacement for Anthony as its regularly scheduled meeting on March 8.
Anthony remains free on bond until his sentencing hearing on April 30.
Mason Circuit Court case number 12-F&M-5 (Anthony criminal) and 12-P-3 (Anthony removal)