LEWISBURG, W.Va. – A Greenbrier County grand jury has indicted both the current president of the Greenbrier County commission and a former Greenbrier County commissioner on misdemeanor charges this week.
Karen Lobban, who is now in office, and Betty Crookshanks are accused of misappropriating more than $1.3 million collected through Greenbrier County’s hotel-motel tax.
“The reason it’s a violation of the law is, when the hotel-motel tax was set up originally, it was provided basically to use as an advertising thing for other entities to advertise so we’d get more people coming into our area,” said Eugene Simmons, Pocahontas County’s prosecuting attorney who is serving as special prosecutor in the Greenbrier County case.
“It has to be done for specific purposes and there’s an enumerated list of those.”
At issue is the 2-1 vote, taken before Crookshanks left office in Dec. 2012, to allocate $1.3 million in hotel-motel tax money for renovation work at a swimming pool, also called “an aquatic center,” at New River Community and Technical College.
The indictments alleged funding that project with hotel-motel tax money is “not authorized by law.”
The Greenbrier County Commission had entered into a lease with New River for the aquatic center project, located at New River’s Greenbrier Valley campus in Lewisburg, in 2010. However, it is not a county-owned facility.
At this point, New River Community and Technical College has returned $300,000 of the allocation following a request for a return of the funds. The remaining $1 million is the subject of civil litigation.
Lobban lost her bid for renomination in the May 13 primary election. Her current term ends at the close of this year.