CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Sen. Mike Maroney was arrested and arraigned today on misdemeanor charges involving soliciting prostitution.
Maroney was arraigned this morning, according to the magistrate court in Marshall County. Maroney paid $4,500 bond.
A criminal complaint that was filed Tuesday in magistrate court in Marshall County, says someone used Maroney’s cell phone to solicit a prostitute this past May.
The criminal complaint describes text messages sent from the cell phone to a local woman, who requested a photograph. The request was initially resisted, but eventually a photograph was sent.
On May 16, according to the criminal complaint,the woman “received a photograph from this gentleman, who was looking directly into the camera lens, smiling and wearing a light blue-in-color polo-like shirt, clearly displaying his identity.”
Glen Dale Patrolman Ezekiel Goddard then compared the photograph with one from Maroney’s driver’s license “and believes both pictures to be of Mr. Maroney.”
Maroney did not respond to a cell phone call this morning from MetroNews, although it’s not clear if he is in possession of the phone. His radiology office said he wasn’t yet in, and he didn’t respond to a message left at the office right away.
Maroney’s lawyer, Paul Harris of Wheeling, wasn’t immediately available for comment and was said to be in court all day today.
The state Democratic Party issued a statement calling for Maroney to step down.
“Senator Mike Maroney believed that he was above the law and today he’s been charged with soliciting prostitution,” stated Belinda Biafore, chairwoman of the Democratic Party.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, also issued a statement about the arrest.
“We obviously take these allegations concerning Senator Maroney very seriously, as they are troubling and deeply disturbing,” Carmichael stated.
“All members of the Senate are held to high standards of conduct. We have full confidence in our legal system and will be issuing further statements as the legal proceedings continue.”
Maroney’s possible connection with a prostitution sting was first reported earlier this month by The Charleston Gazette-Mail, which described a search for Maroney’s cell phone.
That story also described a letter from Maroney’s attorney that denied Maroney knows the woman, Cortnie Clark.
“We have obtained the video statement of Cortnie Clark, wherein she reveals that she does not know Michael Maroney, nor did she meet with him,” the letter stated.
The Gazette-Mail’s story also included a brief statement by Maroney, who had been reached on the telephone.
“There’s nothing to this story,” Maroney told the Gazette-Mail at that point. “I can’t comment on it, and I’m not going to comment on it, but there’s nothing to this story.”
More broadly, the situation started with a prostitution sting in Glen Dale.
Clark was suspected of using her cell phone and advertisements on websites to let potential prostitution customers get in contact with her. Her rates, police said, were $120 for half an hour or $190 for an hour.
Clark was charged June 14 with prostitution and operating a house of prostitution.
“Mr. Clark further admitted to becoming a prostitute so she could purchase narcotics, specifically heroin,” according to the criminal complaint in Maroney’s arrest.
Six people were arrested initially. Maroney was not one of the first, but the number that was eventually traced to him came up in Clark’s phone.
As the Gazette-Mail and then Wheeling’s Intelligencer newspaper described, police had to get a search warrant for Maroney’s vehicle, which had been left at the Pittsburgh International Airport as Maroney traveled, to retrieve the phone.
The criminal complaint that was filed this week described the first documented text message at 12:11 p.m. May 14 when Clark sent “u call last night.”
At 2:18 p.m. that day, she received the response, “yes i can call tonight too at about the same time i work until 2am.”
The criminal complaint describes more messages setting up a meeting at 2 a.m., plus a conversation about a monetary amount and length of time for sexual services.
As the conversation continued, the criminal complaint states, Clark asked for a photograph.
The response was: “i cant send pic… but i am normal and nice.”
Clark replied, “i cant meet w out pic sorry. Have a good night babe.”
The response to her was, “ok sorry i could be a regular.”
Clark then responded that she needed a picture, saying she recently had been robbed by someone using multiple numbers.
The text conversation continued that way until a text came from Maroney’s phone: “i want to meet… if i send pic is it a go?”
After that, the criminal complaint describes conversations setting up multiple encounters in a car and in a house.