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W.Va. State Police: Ex-Shinnston chief stole M-16s

SHINNSTON, W.Va. -- A former Shinnston police chief has been charged with stealing two fully automatic M-16 assault rifles from his former employer, the latest blow to a small West Virginia community whose police department has been hit with multiple scandals.

The West Virginia State Police has charged Donald William Book, 75, with two counts of grand larceny and two counts of receiving or transferring stolen goods.

The Exponent-Telegram said Book was freed on $10,000 bail after an appearance Tuesday morning in Harrison County Magistrate Court.

Defense lawyer Jerry Blair asked the court to consider his client's age and long, productive career.

Harrison County Prosecutor Joe Shaffer said he won't charge former Shinnston Police Chief Mike Secreto, who gave Book the rifles, but noted that the incident has cost Secreto his job. The City Council fired him in January.

Secreto had served as chief since 2001 and had been an officer since 1993.

Book's arrest is the latest in a string of problems for the tiny department, which serves a city of 2,200.

Earlier this week, sheriff's deputies charged Officer Charles Roscoe Henning, 38, with stealing drugs. News outlets said he faces seven counts of possessing a controlled substance by fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge.

Henning allegedly stole hydrocodone from someone and removed medication before putting the bottle in the evidence locker. He was being held Wednesday on $175,000 bail at the North Central Regional Jail.

In December 2011, former Shinnston officer Kevin Junkins Jr. was charged with possession and intent to deliver hydrocodone, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and other offenses. He's also charged with stealing money from the evidence room.

City Manager Debra Herndon said municipal officials were saddened and distressed to learn of the arrest of Book, who was with the city for 35 years, many of them as chief, and was considered "a staple in the community."

However, he hasn't worked for Shinnston since 1998 and is now a private citizen, so Herndon said she wouldn't comment further.

"When the city suspected some wrongdoing on the part of Officer Henning," she said, "we did contact the Sheriff's Department, and we certainly have fully cooperated with the investigation."

The Shinnston Police Department is down to three certified officers, including the acting chief, and Herndon said two newly hired officers would start their 18-week training at the Police Academy next week.

City officials have talked with acting chief Jason Carlson about changing the hiring process, Herndon said, and they're seeking advice from other departments and agencies. The city also will add a physical-fitness component to its hiring criteria and ask the county for help with background checks.

"I think, in the past, we've depended too much on references from other departments," Herndon said, "and that can be problematic because, sometimes, people just want to get rid of a troublesome employee, and they'll give you a good reference."


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