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Clarksburg police chief, officer resign to avoid charges

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- The Clarksburg police chief and a lieutenant have agreed to step down to avoid federal criminal charges related to the delayed arrest of a city councilman in a domestic assault case, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld II announced that the chief, Marshall Goff, and Lt. Tim Smith are accused of civil rights violations and making false statements to federal authorities. Both resigned on Monday.

Clarksburg police were called to councilman Sam "Zeke'' Lopez's home on April 2, where his wife claimed Lopez pinned her down, hit her with a rolling pin and dumped food on her during an argument. Lopez was arrested July 3 and charged with one count of domestic battery.

"Goff and Smith became involved in the response and the actions that they took led to a separate investigation into their handling of the case,'' Ihlenfeld said in a news release.

Lopez was re-elected to Clarksburg City Council in June.

Goff did not immediately return a message left at his home. His attorney was in depositions and wasn't immediately available. A telephone number for Smith wasn't available.

Both men are barred from ever working as police officers again. They agreed to cooperate with authorities in the investigation into the handling of the Lopez case, Ihlenfeld said. The prosecutor said it was unclear if other officials would face charges.

Goff became chief in 2007 after 23 years with the department. He spent five years in the Anmoore Police Department before starting work in Clarksburg.

Media outlets reported that the city named Lt. Robert Hillard as the interim police chief on Tuesday. City Manager Martin Howe did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment.

The federal case is separate from Lopez's battery case, which is being handled by a special prosecuting attorney from Marion County.


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