Former Pocahontas County Prosecuting Attorney Donna Meadows Price will soon find out how it feels to be a defendant. She has been charged with embezzling more than $1,000 during her four years as county prosecutor, as well as stealing almost $4,000 in public property on her last day in office.
The state Supreme Court’s Lawyer Disciplinary Board filed a six-count statement of charges against Price back in 2011, more than a year before her defeat in the 2012 race for reelection. The statement of charges followed complaints from Circuit Court Judges James Rowe and Joseph Pomponio, Sheriff David Jonese and other law enforcement officers, the Department of Health and Human Resources, and the Child Youth and Advocacy Center.
Price was accused of incompetence, failure to prepare court orders expeditiously, switching magistrates without a court order or consent of the magistrate, creating a conflict of interest for a mother accused of child abuse and neglect (by using the woman as a confidential informant in undercover drug buys), failing to inform Health and Human Resources personnel of hearing dates and times (resulting in cases being disposed without their testimony and changes made in child custody), and failure to prosecute multiple drug-related cases.
Last month, the state Supreme Court reprimanded Price for actions outlined in the statement of charges. The grand jury indictment soon followed.
Price will have a lot of questions to answer in court, but two of the most perplexing ones are not likely to be broached in that forum. First, why on earth did she run for the position of prosecuting attorney if she had no intention of faithfully performing the duties of the job?
Second, what possessed her to run for reelection when her inability or unwillingness to perform those duties had already been called into question and cited by the Lawyer Disciplinary Board?
Until those questions are answered, we recommend that other candidates for public office make sure they have the ability and integrity required for the positions they seek.