U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Northern District says former Clarksburg police chief Marshall Goff and one of his officers resigned to avoid being prosecuted for federal crimes.

Photo by Travis Jones

U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld talked about the resignations of Clarksburg police chief Marshall Goff and a lieutenant.

U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said Goff and Lt. Tim Smith had faced charges for civil rights violations and making false statements to federal agents after inappropriately intervening in a domestic battery case involving Clarksburg city councilman Sam “Zeke” Lopez.

“One of the most important things I can do as a United States Attorney is make sure we keep our public officials honest,” said Ihlenfeld on Tuesday.

Ihlenfeld said tips from the public prompted an investigation into the actions of Goff and Smith after Clarksburg police officers responded to an alleged domestic battery involving Lopez and his wife in early April.

“Goff and Smith became involved in the response to the domestic and the actions they took, in responding to that domestic, led to a separate investigation,” said the U.S. Attorney.

There had been allegations of tampering with the investigation or possible procedural violations.

Lopez, who is currently serving his fifth council term, was not arrested at the time. Instead, he turned himself in last Wednesday, July 3 and will face a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in state court. Ihlenfeld said the ongoing federal investigation into the response from Clarksburg police department will not affect that.

Goff had worked with the Clarksburg Police Department for more than 20 years.  As part of the agreement with federal officials, neither Goff nor Smith can ever work as police officers again and both have agreed to cooperate with the continuing federal investigation.

“We are limited, as a council, on what we know,” Clarksburg Councilman Patsy Trecost told MetroNews about the two cases on Tuesday afternoon.  “What we hope is to get to the bottom of this, be very transparent and, at the same time, move our city forward in as professional a manner as we can.”

On Tuesday morning, Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe announced Lt. Robbie Hilliard will replace Goff, who had held the chief’s role since 2007.

“With the recent retirement and resignation of Chief Goff, I have been tasked with putting in an interim chief to move the city forward in the direction that we see fit,” said Howe. A search for a permanent replacement for Goff will begin soon.

Ihlenfeld said all public officials must follow the law.

“Most of the public officials we have in Harrison County and in North Central West Virginia and in the Northern District of West Virginia are very honest, very hardworking and they’re doing it for the right reasons,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there are always a handful who don’t do it for the right reasons.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, along with the West Virginia State Police and Bureau of Criminal Investigation—both of which are members of the West Virginia Public Corruption Task Force.

The public is urged to report tips to the Public Corruption Hotline at 1-855-WVA-FEDS (1-855-982-3337) or e-mail wvafeds@usdoj.gov.

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Comments

  • Kevin

    They need to dig a little deeper in Harrison County. The onion gets stinkier as you go.

  • Bill

    People wouldn't believe what the people whom are payed to protect us gets by with, mind you the percentage of bad law enforcement officals is less than 1%. My hat is off to the Feds. for getting involved with this, now they need to go investigate the Elkins City and State police for allowing a city police officer to resign even thou he was messing with a 13/14 year old female. He even had naked pictures of her on his IPhone.

  • Jim G.

    Once again cops are given preferential treatment. If the US Attorney really wanted to hold public officials accountable he would not let these guys avoid prosecution by allowing them to resign. Cops should be held to a higher standard when they violate the law not given preferential treatment. This US Attorney would not give an common citizen this deal. Cops that break the law should be given enhanced sentences not special deals.

  • justme

    Lopez should not be forced to resign he should do the right thing and resign on his own. What a big man putting his hands on a women.

    • Habib Haddad

      Zeke Lopez:: "What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?" Clarksburg City Council: "We don't know. What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?" Zeke Lopez: "Nothing. You've already told her twice."

  • thornton

    Resignations allowed in lieu of charges would normally imply...much more to the story.

    Where is the investigative journalism rather than the equivalent of the parroting of a police blotter?
    That level of reporting is college intern level.
    Journalists today often appear as little more than publicity outlets or news release depots.

    Are inquiring minds too much trouble?

  • leroy j gibbs

    They should have a new election

  • Woodchuck

    What did the us attorney do? Make a deal with the cops? Nice job. The us attorney should resign for making a deal like this garbage.

    The local politics corrupt the us attorney also?

    Resign Mr. US Attorney.

    • Shadow

      After a little thought, this situation became very clear. U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld is an Obama appointee and the Feds removed "Perjury" from their Lexicon right after Obama said: "So help me God." Don't expect any truth or action from an Administration Spokesman.

  • will

    Government corruption has worsened, and governments won’t fix it… As our rights are denied public officials are able to circumvent the laws with their cronies at the very top of public offices. Judges are the worst at going along with their buddies, and getting double-dip pensions. ALL COPS ARE LIERS because I’ve never met one that didn’t, or laugh because they did hold back on the truth in order to get a conviction. Presumption of innocence are just words with no real meaning.

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    clarksburg as a whole is going down hill
    only a few decent neighborhoods left , what a shame

  • Nothing Changes

    excuse me - "media"

  • Nothing Changes

    This was one of the worst kept secrets in Clarksburg, however, not one medial outlet ran the story. The Exponent, WBOY and WDTV are a collective joke.
    The silence from the City Manager's office and City Council is deafening. One can only assume that they approve of Mr. Lopez's alleged actions and the subsequent cover-up prior to the city election. Most of us thought we had voted for change during the past two elections, boy were we wrong. Prime example - Mayor Cathy Goings, placed signs for Mr. Lopez in her yard and reappointed him to a local board last week. I can only hope that Mr. Lopez is forced to resign and those with knowledge of this mess will come forth and tell us what they knew and why they didn't do anything to inform the voting public.

  • blugldmn

    How in the hell does resigning your position keep you from being prosecuted for breaking the law?

    Get a DUI...just quit your job? no charges? What BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Crystal

    Why do they get to resign instead of facing charges? Anybody else would have been taken to court and faced financial and social ruin. This is just not fair.

  • zerotolerance

    Careers wasted to protect a politician. SMH

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    hope it was worth it

    • WILLIAM

      Those two might(should) be able to get a job at The WVU ATHLETE DEPARTMENT!