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Former Mineral Court deputy clerk charged with embezzlement

KEYSER, W.Va. — A former Mineral County chief deputy circuit clerk is due back in court next month after being charged in a prosecutor’s information Friday with embezzling money from office accounts.

Gary Duane Feaster is charged with using his position to steal more than $1,000 in public funds. A charge through information indicates Feaster is cooperating with prosecutors.

Special prosecutor Steve Conley, the director of the state Auditor’s Public Integrity and Fraud Unit, told Circuit Judge C. Carter Williams an investigation by the fraud unit determined Feaster took between $65,000 and $87,000 from the circuit clerk’s office over a three-year period.

Conley told the court Feaster used the money to fuel his alcohol and gambling problems.

Feaster was ready to enter a guilty plea to the charge Friday but instead Judge Williams, who is on the case by special assignment, arraigned Feaster and ordered a pre-sentencing report. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 17. Feaster may plead guilty in that hearing.

State Auditor J.B. McCuskey commented on the investigation that led to the charge.

“Something suspicious caught the attention of county employees, who brought it to the attention of local police, who called us in to provide the specialized financial crime investigation skills we can perform,” McCuskey said in a Friday news release. “Prosecutor Cody Pancake gladly accepted the services of our special prosecution staff who handled the case from beginning to end.”

Some of the money taken were restitution payments intended for crime victims.

McCuskey, who filed for reelection earlier this week, hinted Friday fraud cases in other counties are under investigation.

“These matters are serious and will be treated as such. You will see several more cases like this in the very near future,” McCuskey said.

Anyone with fraud information is asked to report it at (833) WV-FRAUD or the information can be posted anonymously online at www.wvsao.gov

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