Law & Order

Prison Bars
Schavda / wikimedia Commons

In the U.S., for every 100,000 people, 710 will be incarcerated - that’s more than twice the rate of incarceration in any other developed country. And certain demographics fare significantly worse than others.

But social disparities aside, it’s prison overcrowding that is motivating changes in the justice system. Thousands of federal inmates across the country are seeing reduced sentences in light of new guidelines for non-violent drug offenders. U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld spoke about the implications and challenges here in West Virginia.

Dollar Photo Club

U.S. District Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, just announced the launch of an organized effort to combat addiction problems in Marion, Monongalia and Harrison counties: an Addiction Action Plan. It’s an extension of an initiative that began in the Northern Panhandle late last year in response to a resurgence of heroin use in the region.


Dollar Photo Club

U.S. District Attorney J. William Ihlendfeld II will be discussing the latest efforts to come from his office to combat the addiction epidemic in West Virginia. Ihlenfeld’s office is expanding his established Addiction Action Plan from the northern panhandle into Monongalia, Marion, and Harrison counties.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A state agency spokesman says a fire in Harpers Ferry's commercial area began on the rear patio of a business.

Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina tells The Herald-Mail  that the cause of the fire hasn't been determined.

Joshuashearn / wikimedia Commons

State police data show more than 13,000 permits to carry concealed guns were issued in West Virginia during the first three months of 2015.

If this pace continues, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the state could end the year with the highest total of permits issued since 2009. That's when the West Virginia State Police began maintaining records.

WOWKTV / WOWKTV

Police say an officer fatally shot a man in a Charleston, West Virginia, suburb after the man fired a gun at him.

Nitro Police Chief Brian Oxley tells media outlets that the officer was responding to a domestic violence complaint when the shooting occurred Saturday night.

Wyatt Greene

  Entering an election year, state officials aren't thrilled by suggestions to raise taxes, tolls and fees for roads.

As federal money keeps fizzling, some aren't dismissing the idea.

West Virginia's problems appear to be about upkeep, not necessarily congestion.

U.S. Census data from 2013 shows Charleston and Huntington metro areas had commute times about two minutes lower than the national average, almost 26 minutes. The Martinsburg-Hagerstown, Maryland, area exceeds the average by four minutes but includes Washington commuters.

David A. Farmer, Executive Director, W.Va. Jail Authority
West Virginia Regional Jail Authority

 The interim chief of the state's regional jail agency has gotten the job permanently: David Farmer.

The West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority's board promoted David Farmer to executive director on this week.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Prosecutors oppose a motion by former executives asking a judge to move their criminal case over a chemical spill.

In Charleston federal court Thursday, prosecutors wrote that ex-Freedom Industries officials Gary Southern and Dennis Farrell didn't sufficiently prove that public sentiment over a water crisis is so prejudiced that fair and impartial jurors can't be found in southern West Virginia.

  Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's task forces on substance abuse are slated to meet in Romney and Morgantown.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Both of West Virginia’s Senators, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito, are co-sponsors of a piece of legislation that would rewrite the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act. 

January 2nd of 2014 the Lisby Pad explosion spilled an unknown amount of "black sludge" associated with a horizontal drilling site in Tyler County into a feeder stream of a local municipality's source water stream.
Bill Hughes

 

State senators in Charleston took action this week to roll back aboveground tank regulations put in place after last year’s chemical spill which contaminated water for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians.

  When you hear the word “ginseng” you might think about a wild plant that grows in the hills of Appalachia … and you would be right, that’s the good stuff. But there’s another way ginseng grows that’s a little less wild. Basically, we’re talking about ginseng farming in the forest, which can yield roots as valuable as the wild stuff. So is it a viable business for West Virginians? Well, there are some rules and regulations that might be hindering growth, but experts say there are ways to promote the industry.


There’s a new federal drug court program in Wheeling, West Virginia, for drug offenders and veterans in the northern panhandle. The program offers an alternative to sending offenders to jail right away, and one veteran probation officer says the program will save lives.

Human trafficking (labor and sex) is becoming more and more of a problem in West Virginia according to law enforcement officials. A forum to educate communities throughout the state is ongoing, and legislation to improve state laws was also just introduced (HB 2161).


 View of the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant fly ash spill, appx. 1 mile from the retention pond. This view is from just off Swan Pond Road. The pile of ash in the photo is 20-25 feet high, and stretches for two miles or so along this inlet (the inlet empties i
By Brian Stansberry (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)] / Wikimedia Commons

The Obama administration has set the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity. The regulation treats it more like household garbage rather than a hazardous material.

WOWK

Federal prosecutors want a former executive charged in a January chemical spill on home confinement with electronic monitoring.

U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation

Senator Jay Rockefeller spoke on the floor of the United States Senate about the findings of a senate investigation into the CIA’s interrogation methods after 9/11 attacks.


Brian Turner / Wikimedia Commons

A former Consol Energy executive has pleaded guilty to stealing $440,000 in gas royalties from the company by forging deed transfers so he could funnel the money into a fake company he ran out of a post office box.

A Berkeley County man and his son face charges of plotting to burn a state lawmaker's house.

The Herald Mail of Hagerstown, Maryland, reports that 49-year-old Darryl Edmond Palmer of Inwood and 21-year-old Matthew Brian Palmer of Ranson are each charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.

They are accused of conspiring to burn Delegate Stephen Skinner's home in retaliation for a lawsuit that the Jefferson County Democrat had filed against them over a consumer issue.

West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services

Six residents of a Parkersburg juvenile facility are facing charges after State Police say they assaulted correctional officers and other residents and caused thousands of dollars in property damage.

In a press release, Lt. Michael Baylous said the incident occurred at the Lorrie Yeager, Jr., Juvenile Center on Feb. 18, 2014, during a recreation period when residents were in the facility’s dayroom.

wikimedia commons

The West Virginia Division of Forestry just got a major tool to help combat forest disease and invasive species. Through an act of congress, the Monongahela National Forest has just been designated an “Insect and Disease Area.”  The designation is designed to streamline efforts to combat insect and disease threats.


One Woman's Mission Against Heroin Addiction

May 29, 2014
Stacy Cullinan

Editor's Note: This week we have been airing a series of stories concerning heroin, and the problems it’s creating in the state. Today we conclude our series by introducing you to a woman who’s fighting back against the drug’s influence in one of the hardest hit communities.

U.S. Attorney's Office / United States Department of Justice

There were few heroin deaths in West Virginia in 2001. That’s about the time  William Ihlenfeld started working as a prosecutor in the state’s legal system. He’s now the federal district attorney for the northern district.

Ihlenfeld’s seen the distribution of heroin increase during those years, and he’s fighting a war so to speak, against those who are bringing it here. He says there are established pipelines from Mexico that bring heroin to places like Baltimore or Chicago, where it eventually makes its way to  northern West Virginia.

Glynis Board / WVPublic

Over the Memorial Day weekend in north-central West Virginia, a lot of skin was on display in one restaurant. But it might not be the skin you’re thinking about.


Creative Commons Photo

Editor's Note: West Virginia Public Radio is airing a four part series on heroin addiction in West Virginia. The number of deaths attributed to heroin overdoses in West Virginia is rising steadily. This story is a conversation with some of those seeking help and treatment for their addiction to the drug.

  A former network engineer for an oil and gas firm's Charleston office has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for intentionally causing damage to the company's computer system.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. also fined Ricky Joe Mitchell $100,000 and ordered him to pay $428,000 in restitution Tuesday.

Wikimedia Commons

  Two businesses in Morgantown are accused of illegally selling a drug known as synthetic marijuana. Law enforcement leaders are working with United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, to investigate but so far no charges have been filed.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other sources, synthetic marijuana refers to herbs and plant materials that are sprayed with chemicals designed to mimic the effects of marijuana. It’s often marketed as incense and labeled “not for human consumption.” While not exclusively generated out of Asia, law officials indicate China may be a major source of production.

U.S. Department of Education

Two West Virginia colleges are on a list the U.S. Department of Education released Thursday that includes 55 schools under investigation for possibly violating federal law in how they handle sexual violence and harassment complaints.

Bethany College in the northern panhandle and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg are both on the list.

School of Osteopathic Medicine Director of Marketing & Public Relations Denise Getson in an email response to a request for comment sent the following statement:

Wikimedia Commons

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, was joined by other law enforcement leaders on Wednesday to announce actions taken against businesses in Morgantown that are accused of illegally selling synthetic marijuana.

The businesses known as Mid-Nite Adult and the X-Hale Hookah Lounge were searched early this week and assets from them have been seized, including their business licenses as well as all inventory of a Schedule I controlled substance which has similar effects as traditional marijuana.

The businesses are accused of selling significant amounts of the synthetic cannabinoids commonly packaged and labeled as, “Spice‚” “Herbal Incense‚” or “K2.” Officials say undercover controlled purchases were made from both businesses and then the substances acquired were submitted to the DEA's Mid-Atlantic Laboratory for analysis.

It's suspected that in just under two years the businesses collectively generated over $4 million in sales.

According to Ihlenfeld, no criminal charges have been filed, and the investigation is ongoing.

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