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Ethics commission investigating director of Chelyan PSD

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State ethics officials are investigating allegations of wrongdoing by Chelyan Public Service District chairman David Howell.

Former PSD manager Sam Hope and PSD board member Gary McNeely filed a complaint against Howell on Sept. 4, according to documents obtained by the Gazette-Mail.

In the complaint, Hope and McNeely allege that Howell hired a cousin and two people who work in his CPA firm to fill positions at the Chelyan PSD in violation of the public service district's anti-nepotism policy and without posting the jobs.

They also allege Howell used his office to stop an internal investigation into one of the women based on friendship.

Hope and McNeely also accuse Howell of setting unnecessary meetings of the PSD board in order to collect money for attending the meetings.

Howell declined comment on the allegations.

According to documentation provided by Mike Clifford, Hope's attorney, the Ethics Commission's Probable Cause Review Board will now determine whether there are grounds to proceed with the case.

Theresa Kirk, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, said ethics officials are prohibited by law from confirming investigations or discussing pending cases until public action is taken by the commission.

Last week, Hope filed a lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court alleging he was fired for filing the ethics complaint and for making similar allegations to the state Public Service Commission. Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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