Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 17, 2013

Former W.Va. sheriff pleads guilty to wiretapping

CHARLESTON —  Former Clay County Sheriff Miles Slack pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge that he hacked his wife’s work computer.

Slack entered the plea to a wiretapping charge Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. 

He faces up to five years in prison. Sentencing was set for Dec. 19.

The government said Slack secretly installed a keystroke logger on a computer in the Clay County Magistrate Court office in April where his wife worked. They were married at the time but have since divorced.

Spyware devices can be purchased online and typically are 1-2 inches long and attached to the keyboard cable. Once installed, they can intercept anything typed on that keyboard.

Prosecutors said Slack admitted he intended to monitor her activity, including messages she sent through email and Internet chat rooms. He also wanted to capture her log-in information for various Internet services.

Slack admitted the device captured information about court business and the personal information of defendants in magistrate court. The device was in place for more than two weeks.

Computers in the offices of circuit judges and magistrates are owned and maintained by the state Supreme Court and are connected to a central computer network.

“It’s a shame that Clay County’s chief law enforcement officer chose to illegally tap a government computer,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. “Our elected officials and law enforcement officers have to respect the law like everyone else. If they don’t, there are consequences.”

Slack ran unopposed for sheriff last November after defeating two other contenders in the Democratic primary in May 2012, winning the nomination with nearly 78 percent of the vote. 

Slack resigned last week and the County Commission named Reva Schoonover to serve as temporary sheriff for no more than 30 days. 

Commissioners are currently reviewing 16 applications for the permanent post.


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