Two convicted of fraud
by Ron Gregory
Charleston — State Auditor J.B. McCuskey has announced government fraud convictions in two West Virginia counties, Lewis and Kanawha.
In Weston on Friday, Lewis County Circuit Judge Jacob E. Reger convicted William Bennett, 56, of the felony crime
of Unauthorized Use of Purchasing Card. Judge Reger imposed a penalty of 1-5 years in the penitentiary and
suspended the sentence for five years of supervised probation. Bennett was also ordered to pay $5,100 in restitution
to the Lewis County Board of Education. The defendant was directed to pay back the schools within two years, as well
as writing an apology letter to the Board. Bennett is a former employee of the Board,
where he used his county issued purchasing card for his own personal use.
Monday, in Charleston, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer F. Bailey convicted Connie Robin Smith, 61, for the
felony crime of embezzlement. Smith had been the Municipal Court Clerk for the City of Nitro when she embezzled
thousands of dollars from the municipality. Judge Bailey ordered the defendant to pay $70,000 in restitution to the
city, a sum she has already returned. Smith was sentenced to serve 1-10 years in prison, but the sentence was
suspended for five years of supervised probation.
The cases were based on investigations by the State Auditor’s Public Integrity & Fraud Unit.
McCuskey said he is pleased to see forward progress on cases brought by his office.
“The coronavirus has impacted the daily lives of every person in this great state. While court hearings were
temporarily on hold for a period, the hardworking investigators in my office continue to aggressively pursue fraud.
Especially in these difficult financial times, when cities and counties are struggling to find funds and meet budgets,
every dollar counts. We will continue to find those who steal from the public treasury and hold them accountable,”
The Auditor’s office monitors all state and local government purchasing card transactions to identify internal fraud.
The office is staffed with 14 fraud examiners, fraud monitors, investigators and lawyers. Attorneys for the office
currently serve as special prosecutors in five counties around the State, prosecuting criminal conduct.
“If anyone knows of any fraud against the state, county or local government, they should call (833) WV-FRAUD or
file an anonymous online report at www.wvsao.gov.” said McCuskey.