(02/18/2010)
Wirt County Assessor Debbie Hennen, 52, was found guilty yesterday in Wirt County magistrate court of charges related to fraudulently filing time sheets for a contract worker she had hired.

Special magistrate Emily Bradley of Wood County issued the verdict, a misdemeanor, which is expected to be appealed by Hennen's attorney.

Hennen was fined $100 and court costs and will not serve any jail time.

The on-going case has resulted in other charges being filed against Hennen for allegedly intimidating or "bullying" a witness, referring to employees in her office.

Those charges are to be heard on March 18.

Hennen, during the hearing, claimed the time sheets in question were a requirement from the state auditor's office and had no bearing on when the employee did his work.

Hennen said the employee was salaried at $9,000 annually, and she divided his salary over 12 months for payment.

Hennen told the court she came in on a day she had off for vacation and filled out the time sheet for the employee so there wouldn't be a delay in him getting paid.

Special Prosecutor Josh Downey claimed the time sheets were official records and Hennen committed false information, therefore committing a crime.

Defense attorney Rusen told the court the fraudulent charge did not hold water, Hennen would have received some benefit if a crime was to be committed. She claimed the matter has been a "witch hunt."

In the criminal complaint, the charges brought against Hennen by the WV State Police, says that she fraudulently filed a document stating an employee worked ten days this past July, when he actually worked a day less.

Following months of investigation by the State Police, criminal charges have also been brought against the contract worker.

Authorities have been tight-lipped about the nature of the investigation which started last August.

Hennen's attorney, Michele Rusen, issued a statement saying Hennen later corrected the time sheet, and that the employee did not receive any pay he was not entitled to.

Wirt County's magistrates and Wirt Prosecutor Leslie Maze have been excused from hearing the case of the elected official, Roane County prosecutor Josh Downey was appointed to prosecute the matter.


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