WINFIELD, W.Va. — Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia is recommending the county’s community corrections program not accept Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants in Plants’ latest attempt to have misdemeanor charges against him dismissed.
Sorsaia believes the agreement is illegal and not allowed in domestic-related cases.
“We can change titles of documents and call it an amendment to conditions of bond but in reality it’s a pretrial diversion agreement. Just by changing the name of something doesn’t make it something else,” Sorsaia said.
Plants was hoping to get into the Batterers Intervention Prevention Program in Putnam County. The program would last for 32 weeks. An agreement signed Tuesday would have resulted in the dismissal of two misdemeanor domestic-related charges against the elected prosecutor. The new deal was called a pretrial monitoring program because an original deal, a pretrial diversion program, is not allowed in West Virginia in domestic-related cases. Sorsaia stressed nothing has really changed.
“If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck and looks like a duck it’s a duck,” he said.
Sorsaia sent a letter to Plants’ attorney Wednesday and an intake meeting between Plants and Putnam County’s community corrections office set for Thursday was canceled.
Sorsaia said he would liked to have helped Plants but he was caught flat-footed by the agreement.
“I guess there was an assumption that this wouldn’t happen or I wouldn’t be thinking that way. Maybe they think that I’m so wrong and they don’t understand why I’m doing this,” he said.
Sorsaia also said the county’s grant-financed community corrections program could be at risk of losing grant funds if it allows people to take part under illegal agreements.
Plants’ office can’t go back to prosecuting domestic violence cases in Kanawha County until the charges against him are wrapped up. He allegedly violated a domestic violence protection order filed by his ex-wife and he’s also charged with domestic battery in connection with using a belt while disciplining his son that left a bruise.
As long as Plants can’t prosecute those cases the Kanawha County Commission continues to pay a special prosecutor to do it and the bill continues to mount. The commission will talk about the expense at its meeting Thursday night.