Two Attorneys Charged In Slowdown Program Have Business Connections | News, Sports, Jobs

CHARLESTON — Pleasants County Attorney Brian Carr and a defense attorney facing ethics charges related to Carr’s dismissal of select misdemeanors in exchange for donations to a troubled Christmas gift program were once legal partners.

Wood County Board of Education President Justin Raber, an attorney with offices in St. Marys and Parkersburg, faces pending charges brought by the Attorneys’ Disciplinary Committee of Inquiry.

Raber is charged with alleged violations of West Virginia’s code of conduct by accepting pleas on behalf of clients given by Carr and Assistant District Attorney Paul Marteney in exchange for gift cards and cash donations to the St. Marys Police Slow Down Department were offered holiday program.

Carr, a former St. Marys magistrate before becoming a prosecutor in 2017, was indicted along with Marteney in October 2021 by the West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board’s investigative committee on multiple violations of the professional rules for dismissing select charges of misdemeanor the state between 2018 and 2020 for cash donations to the Slow Down program. The cases remain on hold pending a federal investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia.

According to business records from the West Virginia Department of State, Raber Law Offices PLLC is the newest name of a law firm first incorporated in 1997 as Carr Law Offices PLLC. According to his LinkedIn profile, Raber was the operations director of Carr Law Offices from 2008 to 2015, working for Carr and Marteney.

As of 2016, the law firm’s name was changed to Carr and Raber Law Offices PLLC. It was changed again to Raber Fleegle Attorneys-At-Law after Carr’s election as district attorney in 2016, before being renamed Raber Law Offices.

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Carr remains listed as one of two officers at the law firm, along with Raber.

Raber was indicted by the LDB investigative body in October on two counts of violating two codes of ethics. The indictment was only released last week after Raber was officially served with the indictment documents. Raber does not want to comment on this.

He is accused of breaching Rule 8.4, which prohibits solicitors from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deception or misrepresentation; and to engage in behavior detrimental to the administration of justice. He is also accused of breaching Rule 3.3, which provides that solicitors “should not knowingly … make a false statement of fact or law in a court or correct a wrong statement of fact or law previously made by solicitor in front of the court…”.

One of the charges alleges that Raber received $2,500 from a customer who was offered a deal involving two counts of drunk driving and the first violation of a suspended driver’s license in exchange for a donation to the Slow Down were dismissed program.

The client asked Raber to wire the $2,500 payment to the City of St. Marys for the Slow Down program. Carr and Raber filed a written motion to dismiss the charges on December 9, 2019. According to investigators, there is no record of the $2,500 payment being made.

Raber is one of three defense attorneys indicted by the LDB Commission of Inquiry for alleged professional conduct violations. Clarksburg Attorney Jordan West and Martinsburg Attorney Harley Wagner also face charges for accepting Slow Down pleadings on behalf of clients.

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The Slow Down program was created by the St. Mary’s Police Department in 2008 when Carr was serving as a community judge for the city. The program would dismiss minor traffic violations for donations of $50 gift cards or $50 toy equivalent between October and December each year.

The Pleasants County Attorney’s Office and the Pleasants County Sheriff’s Department participated in the program in 2018. State investigators said that Carr and Marteney’s selection of just a few counts of felonies, some for drink-driving, in exchange for donations of money amounted to a “bribe.” Carr alone faces 178 misdemeanors on 21 counts.

An investigation by the Judicial Investigation Commission last year resulted in the resignation of the county’s two judges over their roles in the Slow Down program. The Attorneys’ Disciplinary Board of Inquiry also found that the City of St. Marys did not track funds for the Slow Down program, nor did it track how donations to the program were spent.

The federal investigation into the Slow Down program has already resulted in a guilty plea. Former St Marys Police Department employee Carolyn Taylor pleaded guilty to perjury earlier this summer to lying to federal investigators about taking gift cards from the Slow Down program for personal use.

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