POINT PLEASANT – The beginning of the end may be in sight for a civil suit and criminal charges a Mason County doctor has against a Point Pleasant attorney with the doctor considering a new tactic to get the civil case moving, and investigators shifting their focus on who forged a disputed settlement check.
On Aug. 16, Dr. Danny R. Westmoreland of Westmoreland Family Physicians in Mason said he was among those who attended a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston (Case No. 05-31246).
The hearing, according to court records, was to consider the withdrawal of a motion made by Raymond G. Musgrave, of the Point Pleasant law firm of Musgrave and Musgrave, for he and Westmoreland to mutually dismiss civil suits the two have against each other.
In February 2005, Westmoreland filed suit against Musgrave alleging Musgrave has improperly withheld a settlement check from him (Mason County Circuit Court, Case No. 05-C-48). According to court records, Westmoreland is seeking $15,000 Musgrave was holding for him in escrow from a suit they settled on March 12, 2004 with Gallipolis, Ohio contractor Gary Barry (Mason County Circuit Court, Case No.01-C-329).
After Westmoreland filed his suit, Musgrave filed a counterclaim against Westmoreland. In his counterclaim, Musgrave alleges Westmoreland's failure to provide testimony as an expert witness in a 1995 civil suit in federal district court resulted in an adverse ruling against his client, Basil R. DeWeese II (U.S. District Court for southern West Virginia, Case No. 95-C-00289).
Because Musgrave, along with his wife, Twila, filed for bankruptcy, all efforts by creditors to collect money from them are halted. That includes pending civil suits like Westmoreland's.
However, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee Helen Morris, Musgrave's bankruptcy petition doesn't stop him from pursing his counterclaim against Westmoreland. Such logic, Westmoreland said, is "insane."
"What kind of judicial system is it that rewards the criminal?" Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland, who rejected Musgrave's offer to mutually withdraw the civil suits, says he's conferring with legal counsel to consider ways to get his civil suit against Musgrave moving in spite of the pending bankruptcy. Though he declined to offer specifics, Westmoreland did say he's since obtained the transcript from the DeWeese suit that disputes Musgrave's allegation that Westmoreland failed to testify as an expert witness.
Since the hearing, Westmoreland said the investigation into allegations Musgrave forged his signature on the settlement check, and a related release, has taken a new turn. According to Westmoreland, he received a call from the Point Pleasant detachment of the West Virginia State Police on Aug. 21 for him to come and make a statement as they were now considering his ex-wife, Kim, as a suspect in the forgery.
All throughout their divorce, which was finalized in May 2005, Westmoreland said he and Kim have remained on speaking terms.
Acknowledging allegations surfaced a long time ago that Kim was a suspect, Westmoreland says he believed her when she denied having anything to do with the suspected forgery.
However, Westmoreland says with evidence he's since been provided, he no longer believes her.
"I was trying to help her," Westmoreland said," until I caught her lying, then everything went to hell."
When contacted, Wood County Prosecutor Ginny Conley, who was appointed special prosecutor after Mason County Prosecutor Damon Morgan recused himself from the case, declined to comment on any specifics of the investigation. However, Conley did say that both Musgrave and his secretary Myra Shull are "completely cooperating in the investigation," and it should come to finality for the next scheduled meeting of the grand jury.
"The plan is to be completed by the next grand jury setting in September to determine whether we go forward with charges or close the case," Conley said.
The Mason County grand jury is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Sept. 5.