By Bob Weaver
A 36-year-old Chloe woman Kelly Mace, is filing suit against the West
Virginia State Police for damages caused to her and her family. Charges
were dropped without prejudice in Calhoun Circuit Court against the mother
of two on August 13, after the case apparently began to fall apart.
Investigating officers Trooper Doug Starcher and Sgt. John Bonazzo
contended in an extensive search warrant, Mace was involved in a million
dollar drug deal and was connected with nearly 270 stolen guns
Mace was indicted in Grand Jury testimony provided by Trooper Doug
Starcher, who said his information came from "A reliable and confidential
informant" and other anonymous tips that accused the woman of selling
drugs. The informant was Thomas Holcomb, who came from jail to provide
testimony and has a record of multiple arrests.
Police were unable to identify a mystery informant(s) who told them in a traffic stop on Route 16,they had just purchased crank and marijuiana from the Mace resident. An arrest record of the suspects could not be found, although the statements were used in the case against Mace.
Mace was indicted for possession with intent to deliver a controlled
substance (methamphetamine), upon testimony given by Trooper Starcher,
without positive evidence for the allegation.
He told the grand jury a substance was taken from her residence, when in
fact the drug analysis was negative. Her attorney said the substance did not
exist. An amount of garden sulfur turned out to be the "illicit drug."
During her Circuit Court trial, Starcher appeared to become confused and
contradicted himself several times. Sgt. John Bonazzo failed to appear in
court twice after being subpoenaed, which appeared highly inappropriate
since he was heavily involved in the case.
"There was not a shred of evidence to do this to me. It has been a long and
humiliating ordeal for me and my boys," said Mace. "The alleged drugs found
was garden sulfur, and they went all this way on that." She said about forty
guns belonged to her family, none stolen.
Mace said "I do not understand why the police did this to me."
She said her business at Stinson has been ruined and friends had shied
away from her boys. "I have always believed when the State Police arrest
someone, something must be wrong. But I can tell you I've changed my mind
now," she concluded.
Trooper Starcher has more than one civil suit pending against him, including
an incident where he threw a MagLite through the rear window of a car
belonging to Richard Whytsell. Whytsell said he did nothing wrong, but police refused to fix his broken window. He was returning home after putting gas
in his car, when the officer reportedly mistook him for someone else and went into a rage. Starcher failed to note the incident in his police report.
Professional misconduct charges were sustained by the State Police.
Reed and Dara Krack, parents of well-known fiddle player Jake Krack, recently filed professional misconduct charges against Trooper Doug Starcher related to his behavior and treatment toward them following a traffic accident.The charges were not sustained."The agency did not want to listen to our witnesses," said Reed Krack."Most of his bad attitude was directed toward my wife. He told us to go back to Indiana ,where we came from." Krack has sought relief from the FBI.