Area DOH supervisor indicted

BUCKHANNON – A supervisor at the West Virginia Department of Highways’ Equipment Division office in Buckhannon was arrested Thursday after being indicted in federal court on charges that he allegedly made false statements to federal agents.

Barry D. Thompson, 48, of Mt. Clare, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury sitting in Elkins on one count of making a false statement to a federal agent, according to a press release issued Thursday by the office of William J. Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Thompson allegedly made “materially false” statements in January 2013 to a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent who questioned him as part of an ongoing federal investigation into the Equipment Division of the DOH, the release states.

Thompson was arrested Thursday morning and subsequently transported to federal court in Clarksburg for an initial hearing, said Chris Zumpetta-Parr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“He will be released on a personal recognizance bond,” Zumpetta-Parr said. “We are not going to detain him.”

Zumpetta-Parr said she believed Thompson was arrested at the DOH’s Equipment Division – located at the intersection of U.S. Route 33 and Brushy Fork Road in Buckhannon – but wasn’t completely certain about the location of the arrest.

“I think they arrested him in Buckhannon (at the DOH), but all I know for sure is that (authorities) were transporting him to Clarksburg,” she said.

Thompson is the only person that has been arrested in connection to the ongoing federal investigation of the DOH Equipment Division, Zumpetta-Parr confirmed.

However, she declined to comment on the nature of the investigation and would not say whether more arrests in the case are pending.

“I can’t tell you any more than what is in the press release,” she said. “I’m not going to comment on that (the nature of the investigation).”

Carrie Bly, a communications specialist for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, declined to comment on Thompson’s arrest Thursday.

“There’s nothing we can say,” she said. “With it being a legal matter, we can’t comment on it at all, so that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

According to previous reports, on Aug. 20, 2013, West Virginia State Police and FBI agents seized a number of records and documents from the DOH Equipment Division in Buckhannon while executing a federal search warrant obtained through the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia.

No arrests were made as a result of the search warrant, and a DOT spokesperson told The Inter-Mountain that the agency was unsure of what federal agents were after.

“We don’t know what they are looking for at this point,” DOT spokesman Brent Walker said. “We’re certainly cooperating with them.”

Walker is out of the office until Monday, Feb. 24, according to his voicemail.

Thompson is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law, according to the release from Ihlenfeld’s office. However, if convicted, he could face a sentence of up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Parr is prosecuting the case against Thompson, which is being investigated by the Public Corruption Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s office. The investigation of the Equipment Division of the DOH is being led by FBI agents and officers, the WVSP and the State Commission on Special Investigations.