CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – Bribery, extortion, obstruction of justice and fraud are just a few of the things these two former West Virginia governors were convicted of.
Starting with Elkins native and World War II vet William Wallace Barron, a Democrat who served as West Virginia’s governor from 1961-1965, his accomplishments while in office include the establishment of a personal income tax, the creation of a Human Rights Commission, job creation, starting the West Virginia Youth Science Camp and putting forth a number of economic developments for the mountain state, including highway construction, which President Kennedy himself helped support, according to wvencyclopedia.org.
It was only after he left the governor’s office in 1965 that he started to run into notable legal trouble.
In February 1968, Barron was implicated in the “Valentine Day’s Massacre,” which brought up Barron and five others on bribery-conspiracy charges “relating to alleged ‘dummy corporations'” in front of a federal grand jury, wvencyclopedia.org said.
“The prosecution alleged that documents signed by all six indicated they would ‘share equally in all profits.’ Five state vendors testified they sent checks to the dummy firms.” The jury ultimately declared Barron innocent and the other five guilty.
However, in 1971, he was once again brought to trial, this time for tampering with the jury of the original 1968 trial. Barron and his wife were both indicted by a federal jury on charges of bribing the foreman of the jury that acquitted Barron, Ralph Buckalew.
According to wvencyclopedia.org, “the indictment claimed Mrs. Barron passed $25,000 in a brown paper bag to Mrs. Buckalew as a payoff.”
After Buckalew pleaded guilty, Barron pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and obstruction of justice in order to get his wife’s name dropped from the indictment. “He never denied the $25,000 paid the jury foreman.” Barron served four years of a 25 year prison sentence and was released from prison in 1975.
However, Barron was just the first West Virginia governor to serve time in prison, not the last.
Arch A. Moore Jr., the father of current West Virginia senator Shelley Moore Capito, was a Moundsville native and World War II veteran who served his governorship as a Republican from 1969-1977 and from 1984-1988. According to wvencyclopedia.org, during his tenure, he increased welfare payments and teachers’ wages, expanded the state’s highway program, fired over 2,000 striking highway workers and helped settle a national coal strike, benefiting about 39,000 West Virginia coal miners.
In 1975, Moore and his campaign manager were indicted “on charges of extorting $25,000 from a company seeking a bank charter,” wvencyclopedia.org said, making Moore the first seated West Virginia governor to be indicted. In the end though, both he and his manager were acquitted.
However, in 1990, during his third term in office, Moore was found guilty on federal charges of mail fraud, tax fraud, extortion and obstruction of justice. In addition to paying a fine of $3.2 million, along with a $750,000 settlement, Moore ultimately served three years of an almost six year prison sentence and was released in 1993.
For more information on both men, you can visit nga.org, or you click here for more about Moore or here for more about Barron.