Lewis, Gilmer magistrate judges indicted by federal grand jury

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Lewis County Magistrate Roger D. Clem, Jr. and Gilmer County Magistrate Alton L. Skinner, II were indicted today by a federal grand jury on charges involving wire fraud, mail fraud and obstruction charges, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Clem, 47, of Weston, W.Va., and Skinner, 57, of Sand Fork, W.Va., were each indicted on one count of “Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud,” two counts of “Wire Fraud,” two counts of “Mail Fraud,” and one count of “Obstruction of Justice.” Skinner was also charged with one count of “False Statement to a Federal Agent.”

E-Z Out LLC, based in Sand Fork, W.Va., is an authorized bonding company in Lewis County. According to company records, E-Z Out is operated solely by Alton Skinner’s spouse, and employs Skinner’s son as an authorized bonding agent.

Clem is accused of taking favorable actions in the courtroom for E-Z Out, including setting unnecessary surety bonds. Clem is accused of calling Skinner to arrange the bond of a detainee without presenting a list of authorized bonding companies to the detainee. 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.

Clem and Skinner are accused of causing payments via electronic transmission which traveled outside of West Virginia. The two are also accused of mailing a contract and checks between Skinner’s spouse and Dave Bourne Bail Bonds Inc. in Virginia, the general agent of the underwriter for E-Z Out.

Both men allegedly attempted to obstruct or impede the grand jury investigation. Skinner also allegedly made false statements to a special agent from the Internal Revenue Service Special Investigation Unit.

The United States is also seeking a money judgement in the amount of $18,900.

Clem and Skinner each face up to 20 years incarceration and 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 incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for the false statement count. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod J. Douglas is prosecuting the cases on behalf of the government. The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations investigated.

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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