Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 4, 2014

Plea agreement negotiated in embezzlement, fraud case

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A plea hearing was scheduled Tuesday for a former member of Summers County Commission who was once in line to become the city of Bluefield’s economic development director.

Jerry Earl Berry, 52, of Hinton was indicted in December 2012 on charges of embezzlement and fraudulent scheme. Between July 31, 2009 and May 28, 2010, Berry allegedly embezzled more than $1,000 from WVyourway.com. He was also charged with fraudulent scheme for acquiring more than $1,000 from WVyourway.com on May 28, 2010, according to the indictment. Both incidents occurred in Mercer County.

Berry appeared Monday before Judge Derek Swope for a pretrial hearing. During the hearing, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash and Berry’s attorney, Mark Wills, informed the court that a plea agreement had been negotiated. The court scheduled a plea hearing for today. Berry was allowed to remain free on bond.

Under the agreement, Berry would plead guilty to a charge of fraudulent scheme, a felony, according to the plea documents on file at the Mercer County Circuit Clerk’s Office. Fraudulent scheme carries a penalty of one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. The plea agreement includes paying $2,000 in restitution.

The agreement includes that the state of West Virginia and the defense would request probation, according to court documents. The state would ask that Berry serve a year of probation, and the defense would ask for a six-month period of probation. If Berry successfully completed the terms of probation, the plea would be withdrawn and the charges would be dismissed.

In late March 2012, Berry, a former president of the Summers County Commission, was offered the job of economic development director in the city of Bluefield. In April 2012, he withdrew his name from consideration after he was unable to reach an agreement with the Bluefield City Board. His term on the county commission was due to expire Dec. 31, 2012.