by Ron Gregory
LOGAN – Paperwork filed in a criminal case involving Christopher Leon Stratton, 45, of Stollings has confirmed reports from yesterday evening.
Stratton, a former journalist and self-described political adviser, was arrested Monday afternoon in connection with an alleged altercation at his home in Stollings. He remained in the Southwestern Regional Jail Tuesday morning on $3,500 bond.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Stratton has been charged with four misdemeanors. He was transported to the Southwestern Regional Jail in Holden following arraignment in Logan magistrate court.
Logan Deputy Z.T. Lilly’s complaint says that he was serving a domestic violence petition escort at Stratton’s residence when the incident occurred. Apparently, earlier in the day a female with whom Stratton had a relationship asked for and received a protective order.
The female was apparently at Stratton’s home “gathering her belongings,” according to Lilly, who had accompanied her to the scene. “The defendant (Stratton) pulled into the driveway and attempted to go inside and started being belligerent,” Lilly writes. “I informed the defendant that the petitioner (the female) was in the residence and he needed to stay outside.”
At that point, the deputy says, “the defendant began yelling and cursing at me in which he advanced toward me. I attempted to place Mr. Stratton under arrest in which he actively resisted and started to fight me. I attempted to put his hands behind his back and he pulled me forward into a chain link fence injuring my right wrist.”
Lilly goes on, “The defendant actively resisted until I was able to place him in my cruiser. All acts occurred in Logan County West Virginia.”
When he appeared before Magistrate Joe Mendez, Stratton requested that an attorney be appointed to represent him on the four charges entered.
Those are misdemeanor charges of obstructing in violation of code 61-5-17; assault on an officer, 61-2-10b(e); battery on an officer (61-2-10b(d); and a violation of the protective order, 48-27-903. If convicted on all counts, Stratton could face fines of up to $3,200 and/or up to two years, six months and a day in jail.
That is when Mendez set bond at $3,500 in cash or surety. Stratton’s signature appears on that document. The magistrate checked neither box as to whether the defendant is permitted to leave the state during the duration of the charges. Mendez signed the order committing Stratton to the regional jail at 8:08 p.m.
Stratton formerly was employed at the Logan Banner as a reporter. In recent years, he has written extensively on social media and claims to be a correspondent with the New York Times.
Despite attempts to deny his political relationship by State Senator Richard Ojeda following the incident, Stratton has issued press releases, statements and comments in Ojeda’s name as a candidate for state senate, as a state senator and now as a candidate for Congress in the third district. Ojeda asked if Stratton could sit with him at the prosecution table when Jonathan Porter, alleged to have beaten Ojeda in 2016, was sentenced. Instead, Stratton sat directly in back of Ojeda and handed the senator papers that Ojeda referred to when speaking to the judge in the case, Duke Bloom.
On the most recent occasion when the Corridor Chronicle attempted to question Ojeda about his homestead exemption in the hallway outside the Porter sentencing, Stratton was at his side and pulled the senator away from a reporter’s questioning.
Stratton and Ojeda have based most of their comments in recent months on their alleged “probes” into Logan County corruption. Stratton has boasted several times on his Facebook page that those he has targeted will “soon answer in federal court.” Despite their claims, Ojeda was unable to name any Logan official who had been “exposed” by the pair when questioned by a reporter.
Tuesday morning, (Charleston) Gazette-Mail reporter Jake Zuckerman quoted Ojeda as denying a link between Stratton and his congressional campaign. Still, the senator appeared to defend Stratton referring, as usual, to exposing political corruption.
“Ojeda said Tuesday that Stratton no longer works with the campaign, and never had an official role there,” Zuckerman reported. This assertion was made despite the Gazette-Mail’s report that Stratton had identified himself as the campaign’s communications director in previous emails to the paper.
“We kind of got into it over him telling people he had a position (with the campaign) and we kind of parted ways,” Ojeda told Zuckerman.
Ojeda went on to tell the paper he is reserving judgment on Stratton’s arrest until a court determines whether there is merit to the charges. He then continued his defense of Stratton, telling the reporter that Stratton has a “long history” of investigating corruption in the county, which has probably made him the enemy of some in government.
In the past, Stratton was an unsuccessful candidate for school board and county commission. He had filed pre-candidacy papers to run for house of delegates in 2018.
“Chris Stratton came down here, and he’s been investigating these folks, and he’s been handing it to them,” the Gazette-Mail quoted Ojeda as saying.
The senator refuses to respond to questions from the Chronicle.