New unit to investigate public corruption in WV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new unit will investigate public corruption in West Virginia, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart.

U.S. Attorney Michael Stuart

Stuart, along with federal and state law enforcement officials, announced Tuesday the formation of a Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit.

The unit is designed to investigate the misuse of public funds, corrupt public officials, campaign and election law violations and suspected criminal activity.

“We’re going to dig into matters like is FEMA money getting spent correctly? Are grant dollars being spent the way they’re supposed to be spent? — in addition to the usual public corruption issues,” Stuart told MetroNews.

Investigations will consist of corruption that threatens public resources and the electoral process. In addition, the unit will investigate federal, state and local officials who “use their position for personal gain at the expense of the public,” according to a news release.

Stuart said the unit will handle corruption on a case by case basis.

“We’ll bring the right partners together,” he said. “I sincerely hope that there will be no corruption, but just in case there is, folks ought to know we are watching.”

The Special Investigations Unit is also responsible for uncovering corruption within both public and private institutions that receive and misuse taxpayer dollars.

The unit includes federal and state law enforcement agencies including the following:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service
  • Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division
  • Inspector General’s Offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • West Virginia State Police
  • West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations
  • West Virginia State Auditor’s Office
  • West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office

“The FBI is joining forces with our federal agency partners to combat public corruption and maintain public integrity throughout the southern district,” said Special Agent in Charge Bob Johnson in a statement. “The FBI looks forward to participating in this Special Investigative Unit with the USAO and our other federal, local and state law enforcement partners as we work to investigate allegations of federal crimes.”

Stuart said citizens are encouraged to report corrupt activity by visiting the U.S. Attorney’s website or by calling 1-800-659-USAO.

“We call on public servants, the vast majority of whom are honest brokers, to not look the other way when they see indications of corruption. We cannot overstate the importance of citizen participation in our fight against corruption, and we urge all citizens to assist us in this effort,” Stuart said.

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