CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man denied he asked Kanawha County Magistrate Carol Fouty to dismiss charges against his friend before recommending her as a maid.
Luther Basham, 61, said officials are conducting a "witch hunt" against Fouty and he said he's not alone in that opinion. Four of Fouty's friends held a rally in front of the courthouse Thursday asking officials to turn their attention to the other nine magistrates.
The West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission charged Fouty with violating several codes of judicial conduct Tuesday. Among the commission's statement of charges is that Fouty dismissed a citation against Melea Dawn Fisher, 30, of Cross Lanes, for misdemeanor simple possession on Jan. 30. She allegedly did so at the request of Basham.
But Basham said those allegations are false.
"I never asked Carol Fouty to dismiss the charges. I don't have that kind of influence," Basham said.
He's known Fouty since the 1970s and when he was arrested more than 16 years ago, she arraigned him.
"How am I going to influence someone when she set a bond for me at $100,000?" Basham said.
Basham served 16 years in prison and was released in the fall of 2011. Around this time he met Fisher, he said.
He called Fouty when West Virginia State Trooper G.E. Gregory cited Fisher in January for possessing Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication.
"I asked her, 'Is there anything you can do to help this girl out?'" Basham said. "She [Fouty] said, 'Have her appear before me tomorrow.'"
Basham said Fouty dismissed the citation during Fisher's preliminary hearing because no one showed up to prosecute her.
However, according to the statement of charges, Fouty violated conduct by not "seeking the knowledge or input" of a prosecuting attorney or Gregory.
About a week later, Basham said he was talking to Fouty about Fisher, who had just lost her job.