CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A business owner who charges people to have their mug shots removed from various websites may be operating illegally after he failed to file an annual report for his company with the Secretary of State's office.
Jason Watson, of Clarksburg, makes a business charging people steep fees to remove their photos from his website, wvjails.info.
He's compiled approximately 105,000 photos on that website alone and owns 30 more covering several other states.
However, the Secretary of State's office recently administratively dissolved Watson's business license when he failed to file a 2012 annual report for his company, US Support Services, LLC, Jake Glance, spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office, said.
This is a fairly common practice for companies going out of business, Glance said. Watson, however, continues to post mug shots and make a profit.
Watson has two years to reinstate himself as a business but must first obtain a certificate of good standing from the tax department and pay a $100 fine, Glance said.
In the meantime he "may not continue to do business except those actions necessary to close the business and give notice to creditors," according to a letter sent by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant to Watson dated Dec. 20.
Seven people have filed complaints about WVJails.info and four more of Watson's company since he created it in 2009, said Derek Walker, chief investigator and director of Field Services at the Attorney General's office.
Walker couldn't comment on any open investigations, but said he's glad a lawyer is pursuing a class action civil lawsuit against similar websites.
Ohio lawyer Scott A. Ciolek, who is pursuing the civil suit, said the biggest problem with Watson is the way he earns a profit.
When someone pays Watson $51 to remove their mug shot from WVJails.info, Watson moves the photo onto another one of his websites.