MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two West Virginia magistrate judges have been suspended in the wake of allegations of wire fraud, mail fraud, and obstruction charges.
Roger D. Clem, Jr., 47, of Weston, a Lewis County Magistrate, and Alton L. Skinner, II, 57, of Sand Fork, a Gilmer County Magistrate, are both suspended without pay by the State Supreme Court of Appeals following an announcement of an indictment Tuesday.
Both men face one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and a single count of obstruction of justice. Skinner faces an additional charge of making a false statement to a federal agent.
In addition to the criminal investigation, the Judicial Investigation Commission will investigate what the court describes as a “serious violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.”
The suspensions will last for the duration of the investigations against Clem and Skinner.
The two are accused of funneling recently arrested clients to an authorized bonding company in Gilmer County run by Skinner’s spouse — E-Z Out, LLC.
According to the indictment: the scheme involved providing favorable action 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, according to U.S. Attorney Bill Powell’s office.
Skinner is also accused of arranging for his spouse and/or son, agents of E-Z Out, to be present at the arraignment of detainees without providing informed choices of other authorized bonding companies.
Additionally, Clem and skinner are accused of creating electronic payments that traveled outside of West Virginia to a general agent in Virginia.
Both men are accused of impeding the grand jury investigation.
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia ordered Wednesday Howard A. Carpenter and Teresa D. Robinson, both senior status magistrates, to preside over the Gilmer County Magistrate Court, with Carpenter serving from May 9 through May 19 before Robinson takes over. The state Supreme Court also recalled Senior Status Magistrate James D. Moody to preside over the Lewis County Magistrate Court beginning Thursday.