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PutnamLive website publisher charged with harassment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The publisher of a Putnam County news website was arrested Monday for allegedly harassing Workforce West Virginia staff over his unemployment benefits.

Mark Vance Hallburn, 50, of Galivants Ferry, S.C., formerly of Hurricane, who runs PutnamLive.com, placed at least 13 phone calls to Valorie Comer, deputy director of Workforce West Virginia, and her staff, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Hallburn was charged with a misdemeanor count of making harassing phone calls, according to the complaint.

Hallburn's calls, made on Aug. 14, were "insulting, demanding and abusive," officer R.E. Veres of the West Virginia State Capitol Police wrote in the complaint.

The calls were made, the complaint states, after Hallburn's unemployment benefits were discontinued. 

"Calls continued throughout the day even after [Hallburn] was advised by the agency of his appeal options and their lack of ability to resolve his complaint over the phone," Veres wrote.

Hallburn admitted Wednesday to making numerous calls to Workforce West Virginia, but only because staff kept hanging up on him.

"I wasn't abusive, I expected to speak to supervisors and they wouldn't let me," he said. "I expected them to get my side of the story before making a fair and balanced decision. They were insulting and abusive to me."

He said the agency wrongly terminated unemployment benefits he was receiving from his job as a substitute teacher for Kanawha County Schools, which he has done since 2006.

"I, like a lot of teachers that work a second job during the summer, filed unemployment. When I moved to the Myrtle Beach area in March I sent the school district a letter saying I moved," he said, noting the agency never contacted him prior to his benefits being taken away.

Hallburn says he appealed the decision dismissing his benefits and that a judge ruled they could be reinstated.

He was granted a $3,000 personal recognizance bond.

This isn't the first time Hallburn has been accused of making harassing calls.

In 2007, Hallburn was found not guilty in Putnam County Magistrate Court on charges he harassed a Walmart construction site superintendent by phone. At the time, the Hurricane Walmart was being built near his former home.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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