Two North Central West Virginia magistrates indicted federally on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and obstruction have been scheduled for trial beginning June 25 by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh.

Trial for Roger D. Clem Jr., 47, of Weston, and Alton L. Skinner II, 58, of Sand Fork, will be held at the Jennings Randolph Federal Center in Elkins.

A pretrial conference is set for 11 a.m. June 18, while a hearing on pretrial motions is set at 9 a.m. June 17.

Defense attorneys Tom and Zach Dyer (for Skinner) and Harry Smith III (for Clem) will receive discovery from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod Douglas as soon as a protective order is issued. Such an order generally limits who can view the discovery.

With just a month remaining until trial, the time for Clem and/or Skinner to decide whether to take a plea deal is limited. In fact, any plea agreement is due by June 18, seven days before the trial.

But the quick trial date was necessary to comply with the federal speedy trial rule of 70 days, since Kleeh’s summer schedule has booked up rapidly.

Skinner was in court in Clarksburg last Friday with Tom Dyer, who entered not guilty pleas on behalf of his client in a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael John Aloi. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Warner represented the government, appearing by video from Elkins.

Both magistrates — suspended without pay by the state Supreme Court — remain free on federal signature bonds after Douglas didn’t seek their detention.

Considering the nature of the case, the fact that the federal government in Northern West Virginia, unlike state court, doesn’t deal with bail bonds companies adds a large twist of irony.

In the case investigated by Jeff Shriner, agent for the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations, and the IRS, Skinner and Clem were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. Skinner was also charged with one count of false statement to a federal agent.

The charges involve E-Z Out LLC, based in Sand Fork, which is an authorized bonding company in Lewis County. According to company records, E-Z Out is operated solely by Alton Skinner’s spouse and employs Skinner’s son as an authorized bonding agent, the office of U.S. Attorney Bill Powell has said.

Clem is accused of taking favorable actions in court for E-Z Out, including setting unnecessary surety bonds. He also is accused of calling Skinner to arrange the bond of a detainee without presenting a list of authorized bonding companies to the detainee.

Skinner would allegedly arrange for his spouse or son, as agents of E-Z Out, to be present at the arraignment of the detainee without the detainee’s informed choice of E-Z Out among other authorized bonding companies, the government contends.

Clem and Skinner are accused of causing payments via electronic transmission that traveled outside West Virginia.

The two are also accused of mailing a contract and checks between Skinner’s spouse and Dave Bourne Bail Bonds Inc. in Virginia, which is the general agent of the underwriter for E-Z Out.

Both magistrates allegedly attempted to obstruct or impede the grand jury investigation. Skinner also allegedly made false statements to a special agent from the Internal Revenue Service Special Investigation Unit.

The United States is also seeking a money judgment of $18,900 from Skinner.

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