MARLINTON – The former Pocahontas County prosecuting attorney has been indicted on felony charges of embezzlement.
On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted Donna Meadows Price for allegedly embezzling more than $1,000 during her tenure as the county prosecutor from June 2009 to December 2012.
While she wasn’t indicted on a count of grand larceny, the indictment also claims she stole almost $4,000 in goods on her last day of office in December 2012. That list includes three iPad 2s, various law books, office supplies and equipment, paper shredders, a space heater, a printer stand and Nook accessories.
Price was defeated in the 2012 general election by Marlinton attorney Eugene Simmons, who joined the race as an Independent after Price won the primary.
At the time of her defeat, a six-count statement of charges had been filed against her in 2011 by the Lawyer Disciplinary Board, the prosecutorial arm of the state Supreme Court. The statement stemmed from complaints lodged against her by the county’s two circuit judges, Joseph C. Pomponio Jr. and James C. Rowe, who accused Price of either dereliction of duty or making questionable decisions.
Specifically, Pomponio accused Price of failing to prepare orders in cases, including juvenile delinquency, present cases to the grand jury, return telephone calls, spend sufficient time in the office and cooperate with law enforcement. The statement noted in a letter sent to Pomponio dated four days earlier, Sheriff David Jonese said Price failed to bring multiple drug-related cases in trial the previous two years, and asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle them.
In his complaint, Rowe took issue with Price using a woman placed on an improvement period by the state Department of Health and Human Resources in an abuse and neglect case as a confidential informant to aid in undercover drug buys. Though Price denied it was, Rowe said the woman acting as an informant was a conflict of interest by not only exposing her to the very thing to which she has an addiction, but also putting her in jeopardy of permanently losing custody of her child in violating the terms of her improvement period.
Also, Rowe noted that after she was appointed as a special prosecutor, Price sat on the case of a Greenbrier County sheriff’s deputy accused of having sex with a minor for nearly a year. According to the statement, Price asked to be removed from the case in early 2011.
Last month, the state Supreme Court took the recommendation of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board and reprimanded Price for her actions in that statement of charges. It ordered her to follow a written and executed plan of supervised practice for three years, complete nine additional hours of continuing legal education per year and to pay court costs for the proceedings.
Pocahontas County case number: 14-F-01; West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case number: 11-1345
West Virginia Supreme Court