Roane sheriff pleads guilty to felony, hands in resignation

SPENCER, W.Va. — Roane County Sheriff Matthew “Bo” Williams handed in his written resignation Wednesday as part of a plea bargain with a special prosecutor.

Williams, 31, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with the felony crime of entering without breaking. He stole drug evidence from the evidence locker at the Spencer Police Department last October. He faces 1-10 years in prison.

Williams’ resignation was part of the plea agreement. The Roane County Commission will meet Friday to formally accept it and choose an interim sheriff. The commission will then have 30 days to choose a sheriff who will serve until the next election.

Williams remains free on bond until his March 28 sentencing. The conditions of his bond include staying away from the sheriff’s office and the sheriff’s tax office. He’s also prohibited from acting as a police officer.

Williams was elected sheriff last November but a short time later he was suspended by the Spencer Police Department in connection with the missing evidence. He began serving his term on Jan. 1 but was arrested a few days later by state police and charged with grand larceny.

Roane County Prosecutor Josh Downey, who has been handling the civil side of the case for the county, said the Williams’ case is a repeat of what’s been happening in West Virginia in recent years.

“This is a sad case,” Downey told MetroNews Wednesday afternoon. “When you get down to it this is a man who has a wonderful wife, a very loving family, he has five children. Just another example of what drugs, methamphetamines, have done to our communities.”

Williams stole 20 grams of meth from the evidence locker. Investigators also found open bags of drugs in the trunk of the Spencer police cruiser he was driving. Williams confessed in a meeting last fall with Downey, a state police sergeant and the Spencer police chief.

“As a prosecuting attorney I would consider it overwhelming evidence,” Downey said.

The case was prosecuted by Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure who is serving as special prosecutor in the case.

Roane County can now begin to move forward, Downey said.

“I’m sure it’s a relief for a lot of the law enforcement officers in the county. A mess is an absolute correct way to explain it,” Downey said. “It’s a very serious charge he pled to, it’s a felony crime. It carries not less than one and not more than 10 years. We’ll see what happens at sentencing.”

Roane County Circuit Judge Craig Tatterson is presiding over the case.

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