by Ron Gregory
WILLIAMSON — A series of photographs has appeared on social media that apparently link the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department to a gymnasium owned by the Rash family. The pictures show Mingo County deputies, family and friends at what those posting them on social media say is a “Sheriff’s Department Christmas Party.”
One of those receiving the photographs contacted the Corridor Chronicle, asking if it was appropriate for the Sheriff’s Department to be using this gym in light of the ongoing controversy involving a May beating of Dawson Isom on Second Avenue in Williamson. Although Isom remains in a coma at a Kentucky nursing facility, it is widely known that Gary and Erik Rash were involved in the altercation that led to Isom’s hospitalization.
In fact, according to Isom family members, Mingo Prosecutor Teresa Maynard attempted to convince them to accept a plea from Erik Rash to misdemeanor battery in the case. Although Maynard has refused to accept or return repeated phone calls from a reporter regarding the matter, she apparently “nollied” those charges with the approval of Circuit Judge Miki Thompson. That, effectively, means nobody is currently charged in the case. In theory, however, Maynard could present the case to a Grand Jury at a later time and State Police in Williamson say their investigation into the beating is ongoing.
While there is no indication the Mingo Sheriff’s Department has been involved in the Isom investigation, a Charleston attorney who wished to remain anonymous, called it “very suspicious” that the Sheriff’s Department would use a building owned by “a family involved in this high-a-profile case.” That would be particularly true, the lawyer said, “if it turns out the Sheriff’s Department did not pay to rent the building for their party. And it would be more troublesome if they (the Sheriff’s Department) actually took any part in the investigation of the Isom matter.”
A call to the Mingo Finance Officer revealed that no checks have ever been issued to the facility, Brick Shot Gymnasium, which is listed as a non-profit corporation with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. The SOS Website says the facility was formed in March of 2012 and lists Derek Rash as the registered agent of the non-profit. Derek Rash is the son of Gary Rash and brother of Eric Rash. The business is said to be located at 242 East Second Avenue.
Last week, an attorney for Isom filed a civil suit in Mingo Circuit Court naming both Gary and Erik Rash as being responsible for the injuries Isom received. Former Kanawha County Prosecutor Mike Clifford is representing the Isoms in the civil case. Earlier, former Logan Prosecutor Brian Abraham has represented Erik Rash in criminal proceedings related to the matter.
Attempts to reach Mingo Sheriff James Smith were unsuccessful at press time. Smith has generally failed to take media calls or return them with regard to departmental issues. A spokesman said the Sheriff is “out of the office until next Monday.”
The anonymous Charleston attorney previously mentioned said, “this looks like another of those Mingo connect-the-dots situations. If the Sheriff can use a building belonging to that family at no charge, what is the return benefit?”