(06/22/2003)
A former Gassaway bar and restaurant owner has plead guilty on two counts of delivery of a controlled substance to a juvenile. Renee VanHorn, former owner of Rumors, claimed West Virginia State Police harassed her and her friends. She stated they were unprofessional, often stopping their vehicles several times a month. She claimed police misconduct.

VanHorn indicated some State Police officers were sexually involved with people she knew, which reportedly worsened problems for her and other individuals in the community.

She said she lost her business because of the police problems.

VanHorn was on a "target list" issued by Sgt. John Bonazzo of the State Police in Braxton. Bonazzo issued the eleven-person list to his department and other enforcement agencies in Braxton stating not to give "these individuals any breaks" Braxton County prosecutor Brian Lantham said there was nothing wrong with the list.

Several law experts, when presented the "target list" issue, told the Hur Herald it was a definite violation of constitutional rights, particularly when some of those listed were repeatedly stopped by State Police and other law enforcement. Civil suits were threatened, but it is unknown if any have been filed.

Detachment Commander Sgt. John Bonazzo was likely given a suspension related to the "target list," although the agency would not confirm any details after a FOIA request from the Hur Herald. VanHorn, 38, received two 1-10 year sentences after a plea bargain agreement. A third charge was dropped as a result of the agreement. The sentence was issued by special Judge Thomas Cadle after a Grand Jury indictment on June 11 2002.

VanHorn left the state after the indictment and failed to appear at a hearing. Circuit Judge Facemire issued a warrant for her arrest. She was apprehended in Barton, FL in December, 2002 and voluntarily returned to Braxton County.

Judge Cadle suspended VanHorn's sentence and placed her on supervised probation, with no objection from Prosecuting Attorney, Brian J. Lanham.

ARCHIVES - Related Stories:

6/15/02 Target List arrests

5/29/02 Police Sgt. suspended

4/30/02 Braxton lawsuits

2/02/02 State Police Fire Braxton Trooper

1/24/02 Claim harassment

1/16/02 Braxton citizens on list


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