|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
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
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
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
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."