West Virginia Record

Monday, October 14, 2019

Federal judge adopts recommendations in case against county magistrates

State Supreme Court

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 7, 2019


ELKINS — Federal Judge Thomas S. Kleeh adopted a magistrate judge's report and recommendations in a criminal case involving two former magistrates who were indicted on wire fraud, mail fraud and obstruction charges earlier this year.

Roger D. Clem Jr. and Alton L. Skinner II were charged back in May with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; two counts of wire fraud; and two counts of mail fraud. Clem was also charged with one count of obstruction of justice while Skinner was also individually charged with one count of obstruction of justice and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent, according to the Oct. 2 order.

In his order, Kleeh wrote that neither side objected to the Magistrate Judge Michael Aloi's recommendations, which were entered on Sept. 13.

"The September 13, 2019, R&R recommended that the motions to dismiss be denied," Kleeh wrote. "The R&R further advised the parties that they had seven days from the date of its filing by which to raise specific written objections. It further stated that a failure to file written objections shall constitute a waiver of de novo review by the Court and a waiver of appellate review by the Circuit Court of Appeals. No party filed objections to the R&R."

In adopting the magistrate's recommendations, Kleeh denied Alton and Clem's motion to dismiss.

Clem and Alton also want Kleeh to approve a deferred prosecution agreement so that they won't have any jail time. The two would only be required to never seek public office again.

Clem, a Lewis County magistrate, and Skinner, a Gilmer County magistrate, were both suspended without pay by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals after U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia Bill Powell announced the indictments.

The magistrates are accused of arranging bonds of detainees through a company owned by Skinner's spouse that employs his son. The company, E-Z Out, is an authorized bonding agent. 

"Clem is accused of taking favorable actions in the courtroom for E-Z Out, including setting unnecessary surety bonds," according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of West Virginia. "Clem is accused of calling Skinner to arrange the bond of a detainee without presenting a list of authorized bonding companies to the detainee."

The release claims Skinner would allegedly arrange for his spouse or son, as agents of E-Z Out, to be present at the arraignment of the detainee without the detainee’s informed choice of E-Z Out amongst other authorized bonding companies.

The United States is seeking a monetary judgment in the amount of $18,900 from the magistrates. They face up to 20 years in prison a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the conspiracy wire fraud and mail fraud, and obstruction counts.

Skinner also faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the false statement count.

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