CHARLESTON – Disgraced former Wyoming County Council on Aging Director Bob Graham said despite what a federal judge says, his job was not one of "public trust."
Graham is seeking at least $50,000 in compensation for wrongful prosecution and imprisonment from the federal government after his conviction for stealing more than $31,000 in unused sick leave from the senior agency was overturned.
To do that, Graham must first obtain a "certificate of innocence" from the court.
A federal judge in Charleston in December denied Graham's request, saying he brought about his prosecution through his conduct and negligence.
Now, Graham is appealing that decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that overturned his conviction and said a certificate of innocence would be appropriate.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Charleston did not oppose Graham's motion for the certificate in district court, where it was initially refused. But the office is opposing Graham's appeal, taking on Federal Judge David Faber's assessment that Graham's is a sordid tale of abuse of a petition of public trust for his own personal benefit."
But Graham, in a reply filed Tuesday, said his position with the council on aging was not one of public trust, though the private non-profit agency did use public funds.
Graham's reply, prepared by lawyer Harry P. Henshaw III, focuses on Graham's salary while working for the non-profit.
Faber, in his December order denying Graham's motion, pointed out as one example of Graham's abuse of his position his $185,000 salary.
Graham blames the media for making a big deal about what he was paid.
"The media created the perception that Mr. Graham's compensation and benefits from the Council on Aging, Inc. were outrageous and something had to be done about it," the reply says. "Presumably his perceived excessive compensation and benefits are what is referred to as his violation of the public trust."
Graham argues that no testimony was given during his bench trial that showed his compensation and benefits were unreasonable.
Nor did any testimony show that the non-profit's board of directors didn't approve of Graham's pay, the reply says. However, Faber also opined in his order that the board was comprised of senior citizens hand-picked by Graham whom he could control.
Graham goes on to argue that the Internal Revenue Service never sought a refund of a portion of Graham's compensation it deemed excessive.
"Consequently, the conclusion that Mr. Graham violated the public trust is unsupported by any factual evidence and should not be the basis for refusing to issue him a Certificate of Innocence," the reply says.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals case number: 09-6013