Musgrave bankruptcy of little concern to special prosecutor

By Lawrence Smith | Jun 19, 2006

POINT PLEASANT – The special prosecutor appointed to investigate allegations of forgery committed by a Point Pleasant attorney says neither his bankruptcy filing nor his brother's position in state government has any bearing on her investigation.

Wood County Prosecutor Ginny Conley says she's yet to determine if sufficient evidence exists to present a case to the grand jury against Raymond G. Musgrave on charges he forged the signature of Mason County physician Danny R. Westmoreland on a settlement check.

Though limited in what she can say publicly, Conley did say she hopes to render a decision soon.

"As special prosecutor, my job is to make sure justice is served and seeking a criminal indictment based only on speculation and conjecture is not serving justice," Conley said via e-mail. "Right now, the available evidence is not sufficient. The investigation is proceeding and after further analysis of the evidence recently obtained as a result of the grand jury sitting, we will be able to appropriately evaluate whether criminal charges are appropriate."

Bankruptcy, bother's position 'irrelevant'

Conley was appointed special prosecutor in February 2005 shortly after Westmoreland filed criminal charges against Musgrave.

Westmoreland alleges Musgrave forged his signature on a check for $15,000 he was to receive from Gallipolis, Ohio contractor Gary Barry from a civil suit they settled in 2004.

In addition to the criminal charges, Westmoreland also filed civil charges against Musgrave (Mason County Circuit Court, Case No. 05-C-48). Conley, who said she's spent eight hours over the last 15 months investigating the case, said Musgrave's bankruptcy would impact Westmoreland's civil complaint more so than his criminal one.

"The bankruptcy may influence the civil case the victim has filed on these same issues, but not any criminal charges," Conley said.

Also, Conley said the fact Raymond Musgrave's brother, John, holds a high-ranking position in state government neither helps nor hinders the investigation. In fact, until asked by a reporter, Conley said she didn't know who John Musgrave was.

"I am not sure who 'his brother' is and regardless it is irrelevant to this case," Conley said.

Serving in state government since 1997

John C. Musgrave is the director of the West Virginia Lottery and acting secretary for the state Department of Tax and Revenue – one of the creditors in Raymond Musgrave's bankruptcy. John Musgrave was first appointed Lottery director in 1997 by then Governor Cecil H. Underwood and reappointed by Gov. Bob Wise in 2001.

In November 2004, Gov. Joe Manchin appointed Musgrave acting secretary for the Department of Tax and Revenue. Musgrave continues to hold the position as Lottery director.

His combined salary is $99,000, according to the state Auditor's Office.

John Musgrave has pledged to pay over $33,000 of the $48,000 owed to the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the reorganization of Raymond and his wife Twila's debts. It was not immediately clear when John Musgrave would begin making payments as trustee Mary C. Morris filed a motion on April 4 to dismiss the case due to Raymond and Twila's delinquency in making scheduled payments.

Both John and Raymond Musgrave declined to comment.

Based on what he believes is foot-dragging on her part, Westmoreland earlier this month filed a motion with Judge David W. Nibert to remove Conley and appoint a new special prosecutor. Nibert has yet to rule on Westmoreland's motion.

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