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Plea hearing set for Clay sheriff charged by feds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Clay County Sheriff Miles Slack, who is accused of hacking his ex-wife's work computer, is expected to plead guilty to a federal charge next month.

U.S. District Court Judge John Copenhaver scheduled a plea hearing for 10 a.m. Sept. 17.

In April, prosecutors say, Slack installed a keystroke logger on the work computer of his ex-wife, who works in the Clay County Magistrate Court's office.

Once installed, keystroke devices can intercept everything typed on a keyboard, including email and information transmitted to Internet sites. Slack allegedly left the device in place for two weeks.

Computers in the offices of circuit judges and magistrates in West Virginia are owned and maintained by the state Supreme Court and are connected to a central Supreme Court computer network.

Slack was charged by information, which usually means a defendant is cooperating with an investigation. He faces one count of interception and disclosure of wire or oral communications. He faces up to five years in prison.

Neither Slack nor his attorney, Bill Murray, could be reached for comment Thursday.

Clay County Commissioner Jerry Linkinoggor said commissioners plan to attend the hearing and write a letter to the judge supporting Slack. Slack hasn't resigned as sheriff, and state law doesn't require a sheriff to step down while facing charges.

"There's a lot of us that really hate this happened. We enjoy working with him, we think he's a good man and we hope everything comes out all right for him," Linkinoggor said. "We'd like to keep him, but we understand we have to move forward."

The Slacks divorced in May after 17 years of marriage.

Commissioners will appoint Deputy Reva Schoonover, who works in the sheriff's tax office, to take Slack's place if he steps down, Linkinoggor said.

Slack took office in January. He had worked for the sheriff's department for about 16 years before he was elected sheriff.

Steve Canterbury, Supreme Court administrator, has said the sheriff planted the device for personal reasons, not to gain access to private court documents. The device was discovered on a computer during a routine audit.

"We have thoroughly examined everything that was likely to have been copied by the device that he put onto the computer and there was nothing that wasn't public information," Canterbury previously told the Gazette. Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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