(04/06/2006)

Wirt County Sheriff Andy Cheuvront claims his using the county cruiser for personal use and a vacation, where the vehicle was wrecked, was OK, but the county commission says such use was inappropriate (Hur Herald Photo)

By Bob Weaver

Wirt County Sheriff Andy Cheuvront is in a heated battle with the county commission and the county's local magistrates.

He has had several rough months, being at odds with the county commission over his wrecked cruiser, having to pay back personal phone calls charged to the county and being called to task by the magistrate court for his management of the home confinement program.

Cheuvront claims he has done nothing wrong.

In what seems like a comedy of errors, following months of contention, the sheriff has paid a $1000 deductible to the Wirt Commission following his wrecking of the county's police cruiser he took on vacation with his girlfriend to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina last August.

The county's insurance apparently paid most of the damages in the two-car collision.

Cheuvront presented receipts to the commission for gasoline he purchased on the trip, variously indicating he might bring a lawsuit against the commission regarding their position over the cruiser.

After months of dancing around the issue, the county commission maintains that the sheriff's use of the vehicle was inappropriate.

Also, Cheuvront apparently made a number of personal phone calls and charged them to the county, according to the Wirt County Clerk. He reimbursed $303 to the county.

Another major problem facing the sheriff, Wirt County's two magistrates, C. David Roberts and Janey Wigal, complained to the commission last December that the sheriff has not properly managed home confinement cases.

The magistrates said "We will be reluctant to sentence any further individuals to home confinement...unless minimally accepted procedures...are put into place and sufficient oversight instituted."

They said "The problems with the program are on-going and not the result of one incident." Magistrate Roberts said that the code does not say that the home confinement supervisor can approve something on a whim.

Cheuvront said he felt the program was running as it should.

The magistrates, through the county commission, have apparently reached accord with the sheriff regarding following a set of standards.

Cheuvront claims he has been publicly judged and ridiculed by the commission, although he has received "a multitude of support from well-wishers," saying the actions have hurt his political career.

The sheriff purchased the 2002 Ford Crown Victoria cruiser with his own money, which was then leased to the county.

He contends that the lease agreement allowed him to use the vehicle for sheriff's business and as his private vehicle.

Currently, the commission is asking the sheriff for the car's title, so they can transfer it back to him or make other disposition. The sheriff has denied their request. He is also asking for county funds to hire a lawyer, a request that has been denied.

Cheuvront attached a lien on the cruiser for $20,658, which he has refused to release. The commission has applied for a lost title.

During the past few months, Cheuvront has apparently asked the commission to purchase the vehicle from him at its original price, or pay him for time he has not had access to the auto.

Cheuvront has asked the commission to retract their statement that said "improper use of county property," saying he has consulted legal counsel.


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