Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught asked the Wetzel County Commission Feb. 25 to provide a 20 percent match for the renewal of the Victims Of Crime Act grant.
The county commission is asked to provide about $4,500 to match the approximately $18,000 grant funds that the prosecutor's office receives from the state. Haught explained that the VOCA grant helps to fund the county's victim advocate, Terry Long. Haught said the county has had the VOCA grant for approximately 12 years and that Long works part-time as a victim's advocate and part-time as an investigator.
"We've seen his duties grow, especially with respect to collecting restitution," Haught noted. "He can assist people through the Crime Victim Compensation Fund. If a person suffers a violent crime, he will petition the Crime Victim Compensation Fund, and that fund will usually pick up a certain amount of that person's medical expenses. There is a cap on it, but it will pick up those funds and we have seen that in cases involving, murder/suicide. The CVCF will pick up funds for cleaning up the scene, helping the property owners who have suffered that."
"We have seen that in cases involving serious bodily injury, for people who have had to have surgery as a result of an assault, so I think it's been very useful. Even on property crimes, Mr. Long will send out impact statements. Victims return that with restitution figures, and we have attempted to pick restitution up through a court proceeding. Most of our court orders will have a restitution order. Generally, individuals who go to jail don't pay restitution, but I've had people who have made payments, even while incarcerated." Haught said one area where the prosecutor's office is having more issues involving restitution, are the number of forgery and uttering cases.
"They have gone up pretty significantly, and by forgery and uttering, I mean people stealing checks and forging a name. It's common for adult children to steal parents' checks and forging as much as $10,000 or grandchildren stealing grandparents' checks. We have a lot of those cases, and Terry works with obtaining restitution.
Haught added that Long also works with victims by preparing them for court, referring them to counseling, and helping them with transportation issues.