PG Mayor Violated Ethics Act
BY LAUREN MATTHEWS
A document from the West Virginia Ethics Commission states that in January 2014 Pine Grove Mayor Roy Justice violated the West Virginia Governmental Ethics Act by having town employees repair damage in his home.
The conciliation agreement, just recently provided to the Wetzel Chronicle, was entered into by Justice and the ethics commission. The document references Complaint No. VCRB 2014-07. Per the Findings of Fact of the conciliation agreement, Justice instructed two employees of the town of Pine Grove to fix water leaks inside his home while the town employees were on the clock for the town. The repairs took approximately six hours to fix.
Furthermore, the document states that Justice instructed the employees to purchase the materials needed for the repairs at a hardware store and to charge the materials to the town of Pine Grove. The employees charged the materials to the town’s account of approximately $50.
According to the Ethics Commission, Justice stated that on Jan. 31, 2014, a Friday, during an extremely cold winter, the water line at his private residence froze which resulted in leaking pipes in his private residence.
Justice had stated that the same day he had his right index finger amputated, which prohibited him from repairing the water leak himself. Justice said he attempted to get private help but could not find any available workers during the season of frozen water pipes. Justice then directed two town employees to come to his house that day to repair the leaking pipes.
On Feb. 3, 2014, a Monday, Justice directed the town recorder, Kimberly Bates, to prepare an invoice to him reflecting his estimated use of town labor and the materials used to repair the water damage at his private residence. Bates prepared an itemized invoice totaling $140 for both 12 hours of labor and materials. Justice paid it in full on March 15, 2014.
The complaint was referred to the commission’s Probable Cause Review Board which ordered the issuance of a Notice of Investigation (NOI). The Executive Director issued the NOI on April 14, 2014. After which, Justice immediately contacted Ethics Commission staff and expressed his desire to fully cooperate with the investigation and conciliation of this complaint.
Justice asserted he did not intend to use his office for his private gain “and regrets any appearance of impropriety.” Justice stated that he understands his actions violated the Ethics Act and wanted to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
According to the Findings of Fact, Justice has “fully and promptly cooperated with the Ethics Commission staff throughout the investigation and conciliation process.”
As part of the Conciliation of Violation portion of the document, Justice noted that he violated the act by charging materials to the town’s account.
Furthermore, the document states that for the conciliation agreement to be finalized, the commission had to approve the agreement and determine sanctions to be imposed. In consideration for the settlement of the matter, Justice agreed to the commission’s imposition of the following sanctions on June 5, 2014: fine not to exceed $75, cease and desist from such conduct in the future, and training on the West Virginia Ethics Act either in person by viewing the training provided on the Ethics Commission’s website, www.ethics.wv.gov, or otherwise provided by the Ethics Commission, within 90 days of the entry of the Order of the Ethics Commission adopting the Agreement. Justice agreed to notify the commission in writing upon his completion.
The Conciliation Agreement also stated that both parties understand that, pursuant to W.Va. Code 6B-2-4(s), the Conciliation Agreement and Commission Order must be available to the public.
When asked for comment on the matter, Justice stated that there were circumstances that led to the complaint, but “it’s water under the bridge.
“I’m not trying to hide anything,” he stated. “The charges were real. I did answer the charges. I did pay a small fine.”
Justice also stated to the Chronicle that his finger had been amputated that day, before the pipes froze. He stated it was a previous injury that later necessitated amputation.