(11/23/2002)
Authorities are investigating an incident involving the Detachment Commander of the West Virginia State Police in Braxton County. Sgt. John Bonazzo reportedly declined to serve a domestic violence petition last Saturday, crumbling and throwing the document away.

Braxton Deputy Sheriff Shane Dillinger took statements this week regarding the problem, and a complaint was reportedly being filed with Superintendent of the State Police Howard Hill.

Bonazzo is said to have gone into a rage, cussing Braxton County Sheriff Howard Carpenter's department, indicating he did not want to do the sheriff department's work, although Carpenter's deputies had been serving warrants earlier. The incident reportedly took place at Sutton before one or more deputies and a 911 dispatcher in the courthouse annex.

Deputy Rick Wilson reportedly retrieved the crushed document and served the domestic petition.

Sgt. Bonazzo was called on the carpet in Charleston after he issued an eleven person "target list" of Braxton citizens who were "not to be given any breaks," after which members of the Gassaway Baptist Church reportedly wrote "hundreds" of letters to Superintendent Hill, supporting his efforts to eradicate drugs in the county.

Brian Lanham, Braxton Prosecutor, said there was nothing illegal about Bonazzo's directive, although he was suspended for five days by his superiors.

Numerous other problems have surfaced under Bonazzo's command, including the apparent firing of Trooper M. A. Staley.

Last week Sgt. Bonazzo seemed to be in an awkward position after a Braxton drug raid. An elaborate marijuana grow system which officers confiscated earlier and sold at auction, was re-confiscated in the recent raid.

After Bonazzo reportedly brought a lawsuit against the West Virginia State Police about not being promoted to Sergeant, he received the promotion and was stationed in Calhoun County.

Bonazzo issued a memo accusing Calhoun Sheriff Allen Parsons and the Grantsville Police Department of not answering night calls, and advised 911 that the State Police would no longer answer after hours calls.

Bonazzo claimed the agencies decisions over police coverage was not public information, after which the Hur Herald obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act.

Records indicated the allegations were not correct, and Bonazzo retracted his statements and position after the event was investigated by his supervisor.

Bonazzo also moved on the investigation against Chloe resident Kelley Mace, claiming the woman was operating a "million dollar" drug operation, with Trooper Doug Starcher testifying State Police obtained an illegal drug during a search of Mace's property. No such drug evidence existed or was produced, according to court records.

Mace's case moved forward for over a year in Calhoun Circuit Court, until it was dropped by Prosecutor Tony Morgan, and is currently under investigation by special prosecutor Gerry Hough of Glenville, who said "The investigation, while pending, will not be commented upon by this office."


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