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Former Doddridge magistrate admonished over charity fund, was told to resign

WEST UNION — A public admonishment was filed last month by the Judicial Investigation Commission against a former Doddridge County Magistrate, claiming he “improperly solicited donations for a charity in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

Micheal Headley, 51, 103 Piggin Run Road, West Union, started a Magical Christmas charity while he was the Doddridge County Sheriff in 2015, according to the admonishment.

In a response to the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel, Headley said the department used the concealed pistol account to deposit donations, the admonishment said.

Headley said he had not handled Magical Christmas since 2015 and said the only way he was involved was by delivering the gifts to local children, according to the admonishment.

After recommendation from the State Auditor’s Office, a separate account was opened for Magical Christmas donations and it required two signatures for all checks, the admonishment said.

During the 2020 holiday season, Magical Christmas was advertised four times in the local newspaper while Headley was the new magistrate elect, the admonishment said.

The advertisement asked for donations to be mailed to the sheriff’s department or delivered in person. In a written statement included in the admonishment, Headley said he never ran the advertisement and had no knowledge of them.

The owner of the local newspaper “does not support Mr. Headley’s contention that he did not know about the advertisements,” the admonishment said.

While the complaint was pending, the investigation commission became aware of another matter involving Headley and his assistant Angela Lamb.

On Nov. 3, Headley was informed if he did not resign that day, a complaint would be filed which would seek his suspension without pay; the admonishment said he did resign that day.

Investigation commission members voted 8-0, saying the case had probable cause, the admonishment said. It said Headley “had a duty to refrain from soliciting money on behalf of any organization,” the admonishment said.

In the admonishment, the commission said Headley “should not have served as a signatory on the bank account so close in time to taking office as Magistrate. Moreover, the haphazard handling of the account itself over the years calls into question the integrity of the man behind the charity itself.”

The commission said in the admonishment that Headley is to be disciplined.

Headley and Lamb will appear before Harrison County Magistrate Mark Gorby Thursday in reference to falsifying accounts and fraudulent use of county purchasing card charges. It is unclear whether the charges are connected with the information in the admonishment.

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