EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMAGISTRATE FOUTY
from Eyewitness News Online
Key Player In Fouty Ethics Investigation Makes Bold Claim
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Videographer: Mike McGee
Web Producer: Kallie Cart
Reported: Apr. 11, 2012 6:21 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 11, 2012 6:52 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A Kanawha County magistrate is in serious trouble and another key player in the judicial investigation is speaking out to Eyewitness News, making a bold claim.
On Monday, the WV Supreme Court suspended Carol Fouty without pay. Then on Tuesday the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel handed down numerous ethics charges against Fouty. This all comes after alleged wrongdoings involving Fouty's interaction with defendants and allegations of profiting from the bench.
Some of the numerous violations just handed down deal with Fouty's alleged working relationship with a man named Earl Wright who helps people get out of jail.
"I've done no wrong and neither has Carol Fouty," Wright told Eyewitness News in an exclusive interview.
Investigators say Wright acts as a bail bondsman, but he doesn't meet the requirements to be one. Wright calls himself a facilitator. He is the power of attorney for several different properties, properties investigators say he uses to post people's bonds, a service he does for a fee.
But if someone's bond is too high Wright says he asks Magistrate Fouty to help and she will reduce the bond, something he says she's never refused to do.
"All the stuff that she done in the court was according to the law or her feelings," Wright says.
On some occasions investigators say Wright took people to Fouty's house to do maintenance work. Investigators say Fouty pays the defendants and then the defendants pay Wright's fee.
But Wright, who's a convicted felon and was even on the FBI's most wanted list back in the 1960s for robbing banks, claims he's done nothing wrong.
"I do this for friends because I've been in prison for a long time, I don't want to see anyone in prison and I don't think prison is made for people," Wright says. "At no time, at no time have I ever made a deal with Carol Fouty to do something against the law."
But the Judicial Investigation Board says Fouty's dealings with Wright violate several ethical canons. But Wright says Fouty isn't alone.
"Other magistrates would do the same thing but there's a couple who don't like me and they won't do it," Wright says.
Wright gave us the names of the other magistrates who he says have helped him. Eyewitness News has handed those names over to the Judicial Investigation Commission.
We have also confirmed that there is an on-going criminal investigation into Magistrate Fouty. As for the ethics charges, Fouty has 30 days to appeal the charges then the Judicial Hearing Board will hold a hearing in about 4 months. If the board rules against Fouty it could hand down an unpaid suspension for a lengthy period of time.
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