Feds indict 7 women
for money laundering
by Julie R. Cryser
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
Seven Harrison and Barbour county women, including
the owner of Chums Day Care and the Movie Cafe in downtown Clarksburg,
were named in a 29-count indictment for laundering money.
The women, however, say they are innocent and that
the charges stem from a state audit of the day care in which auditors accounted
for the number of children at the facility differently than the day care
accounted for them.
Named in the indictment were Marsha L. Viglianco,
42, of 212 Liberty Avenue; Alice Bowsman, 33, of 251 Laurel Lanes; Selena
Richards, 47, of 91 Chub Run Road, Mount Clare; Mildred DelRio, 39, of
Clarksburg; Kimberly Wright, 33, of Shinnston; Diane Davis, 34, of Bridgeport;
and Terrie Cassell Fitzwater, 37, of Philippi. The indictments were returned
by a federal grand jury in Wheeling, the Northern District of federal court.
The first count of the indictment alleges that the
seven women conspired from January 1994 to the fall of 1995 to submit false
billing forms to the state Department of Health and Human Resources regarding
the number of children enrolled at Chums Day Care. The state paid the day
care $283,605.61 for services not rendered, according to the indictment.
Viglianco was named in 12 counts of the indictment
alleging that she knowingly engaged in monetary transactions in property
derived from unlawful activity. The counts further allege that Viglianco
deposited checks into her personal account in values greater than $10,000
on 12 occasions beginning on Feb. 17, 1994 through Aug. 17, 1995, knowing
the funds were derived from unlawful activity. Bowsman, Richards, DelRio,
Wright, Davis and Fitzwater were named in the indictment for mail fraud.
The indictment also carries a forfeiture allegation,
meaning the United States could take property Viglianco received through
allegedly illegal means, including a plot of land in Florida and the $283,000
she allegedly laundered.
It didnt happen, Viglianco said Thursday evening. Its a terrible
misunderstanding by these people who did the audit.
Viglianco said that the auditors used sign-in and
sign-out sheets to determine the number of children being cared for at
the day care. More than three-fourths of the parents dont sign their children
in and out, she said, so they didnt show up in the audit. About 30 to
40 of the children were picked up by vans and their parents never signed
in and out sheets.
State law, she said, did not require the day care to use sign-in and
sign-out sheets for billing purposes until about two to six months ago.
Viglianco said the day cares practices have been
under investigation for the last 5 years. The center, which cares for about
30 children a day now, bills the state for some of its services rendered
to low-income children.
She said the 12 checks referred to in the indictment
were checks paid to her from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
And, she said it would be too difficult to overbill the state because the
children, to whom services are being provided, have to be tracked. This
is going to cost us a lot of money to get out of and probably ruin my business,
None of the women contacted Thursday night said
they knew anything about the indictment, with Viglianco asking for a list
of the indictments to be faxed to her at the Movie Cafe.
DelRio said all seven women appeared in court in
New Martinsville to testify about the audit in March 1998, and then Richards
testified in front of a grand jury in Elkins earlier this year.
DelRio now works at Photo 1, in the same building
as the Movie Cafe in downtown Clarksburg. She used to work at Chums. I
did do billing for them, but I never laundered any money for them, DelRio
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 20
years in prison and a fine of $500,000 on the conspiracy count. Viglianco
faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of $500,000 on the
12 counts in which she is named.
The remaining defendants face a maximum prison term of 5 years and
a fine of $250,000 on each mail fraud count.
Brush fire consumes 70 acres
by Torie Knight
KINCHELOE A brush fire quickly spread through 70
acres of wooded area in southern Harrison County Thursday afternoon and
continued through the night. Firefighters were expecting to still be there
early this morning.
The fire hissed and blew great puffs of smoke into
the air, blurring the vision of volunteer firefighters from five counties.
Still, they stood their ground.
They formed a line along the winding Kincheloe Road
Thursday near the Kincheloe Game Reserve.
Some toted leaf blowers, rakes and shovels. A look back at the man
on the truck and the fury of water rushed through the hoses.
The firefighters were starting to make some progress.
Then, the wind shifted. The flames found dry leaves and dead bark and started
roaring again. Its a beast today all right, said 50-year-old firefighter
As the fire jumped a portion of the road and forced
back the firefighters, Walters talked of his 18 years of experience battling
This one definitely was the worst in the county
in a long time, he said. The blaze is located in an area that borders Lewis
and Doddridge counties.
Firefighters on the scene said they believed it
started as a spark from an electrical transformer. It was only about 6
miles from the site of a 25-acre brush fire earlier in the week. All it
takes is a spark and its gone, Walters said.
With the wind uncooperative, the hundreds of volunteers
tried to contain the fire. They prayed for the evening rain showers but
knew they were in for a long night.
Jeff Mills of the West Virginia Forestry Department
searched for a lighter. He found one and took off. If you cant control
the fire, you have to burn it out, said Reynoldsville firefighter Charles
Mills started a backfire. A fire that he would let
burn and then have firefighters put out. The idea was to draw in the main
fire and bring it into territory already controlled by the firefighters.
It should knock on wood put out the fire, Walters told a younger
member of the Doddridge County Volunteer Fire Department. If it doesnt,
theyll expect you to put on your boxing gloves.
It helped, but didnt stop the flames. Trees knocked
down by a storm last month added extra fuel. Rick Todd of the Salem Volunteer
Fire Department posted command.
He sent some firefighters down to nearby houses
to make sure the fire didnt cause a threat. Harrison County Sheriffs
Deputy D. Quinn lived nearby. I usually try to stay away from fires,
It was a matter of waiting, removing dry material
and trying to control the fires path, Todd told the firefighters. Thats
all we can do, one agreed.
3rd judge for
by Troy Graham
With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Cecil Underwood granted
Harrison County a third circuit court judge by signing a bill that adds
a judge here and in two other judicial circuits.
The new Harrison County judge will most likely
take the bench in 2001, after being elected in November 2000. The governor
could appoint someone to temporarily fill the third slot, but administration
have said Underwood is unlikely to do so. County officials would also
be hard pressed to find the space and funds to accommodate a third judge
at this time.
Lawmakers who pushed for the third judge argued
that Harrison County has one of the states largest civil and criminal
caseloads, while noting that the state added a fifth magistrate here a
few years ago.
The governor signed the bill Thursday, the last
day bills from the recently adjourned legislative session could be signed
into law. I think the governor recognizes the need to address the concerns
of our court system, said Underwood Spokesman Rod Blackstone.
Underwood also vetoed three bills Thursday, including
one that represented a portion of the changes lawmakers attempted to make
in state divorce courts. A far-reaching reform bill died in the last night
of the Legislature, but lawmakers salvaged and passed a portion of the
bill at the last minute.
The governor vetoed the bill because the changes
would have overburdened an already overburdened system, Blackstone said.
The original bill also included the creation of more full-time family law
masters to handle the proposed changes.
The governor signed a bill that will allow the state
Public Service Commission to regulate the cable industry. The bill is meant
to replace the Cable Advisory Authority, which was disbanded last year.
Although the PSC will not be able to regulate rates,
the commission will be able to take complaints and it can fine and suspend
a cable companys right to operate in the state, said PSC Spokesman Bob
The PSC will serve as the franchising authority
that allows cable companies to operate, he said. In some instances county
commissions or city councils serve as franchising authorities. That layer
of regulation will remain intact, Teets said.
The governor also signed an open meetings bill that
was supported by the West Virginia Press Association and associations representing
county school boards and state and county officials. It was opposed by
the editorial boards of several newspapers that say it would lead to more
public business being conducted in secret.
Weston residents to vote on city fees
by Torie Knight
Weston residents will be able to vote on a municipal
fee the city instituted a year ago that nearly doubled, and in some cases
tripled, what residents pay for city services.
I feel this should have been done a year ago. They
wasted too much time, said Weston resident Betty Root, who attended a
Thursday Weston City Council meeting in which council members placed the
referendum on the June 1 city election ballot.
However, city officials said Thursday that without
the fee, which would bring in $200,000 to the citys coffers next year,
the city could go financially bust. The fee and a business and occupation
tax for utilities make up $543,200 of the citys $1.28 million budget for
1999-2000. The city has to have the money, City Attorney Christy Smith
said. The folks can pay for the services they get or watch the city crumble.
Residents circulated a petition opposing the fee
in June 1998, two months after city council approved the fee. The fee doubled
many and tripled some charges for city fire and police protection and other
Of the 1,026 signatures on the petition, according
to the Secretary of States Office, 822 were registered Weston voters.
That number represented more than the 30 percent of the citys 2,528 registered
voters who needed to sign the petition to force the city to call a referendum.
Council members, however, rejected the petition
saying they questioned the validity of some of the signatures. City officials
sent affidavits to those whose signatures they questioned.
On Thursday, Smith confirmed that 801 of the signatures
were legitimate, more than the 30 percent needed. Council members Charles
Wilson and Jon Tucci were absent from Thursdays meeting. Mayor John Burkhart
called a vote to put the municipal fee on the June 1 ballot. Council members
Barbara Phillips and John Oliver voted with Burkhart.
Smith said if the city waited for the next meeting,
it would have to hold a special election for the municipal fee. A special
election would cost the city at least $5,000, money the city doesnt have.
The municipal fee hike was part of a plan to pull
the city out of a $100,000 deficit it had last year. The plan also included
implementing a new business and occupation tax. Business owners successfully
challenged that tax in court, but the city quickly enacted a new tax that
could not be challenged.
Without the municipal fees, Smith said the city
can kiss good-bye a planned $1 an hour across-the-board pay raise for
city workers, as well as any extra road paving or equipment purchases.
Council members and department heads agreed the
municipal fee is crucial to the survival of some departments. Three police
department officers recently quit, citing low pay. Officers earn $6.89
an hour, including one who quit with 20 years experience in Weston. Other
departments need the extra pay, as well, Smith said.
Last year, the city collected $120,000 in municipal
fees, said City Treasurer Cyndi Donaldson. It is unclear if the city may
have to return the fees if the voters reject them.
Y2K bug to cost
by Paul Leakan
The City of Clarksburg has at least 22 reasons to
complete its efforts to exterminate the year 2000 computer bug well before
The city has found that it needs 22 new computers
to avoid a potential shut down of its computer systems at the beginning
of the new year. The computers should cost a total of $62,000.
Clarksburg City Council will consider approving
the purchase of the new computers during its next regular session on April
15. The year 2000 computer glitch is due to time and date microchips that
could shut down when given a 21st century date.
Clarksburg city officials do not want to make the
computer glitch the citys first big headache of the new year. For the
past six months, a special city committee has been investigating how the
city will be affected by the computer crisis.
The city took an inventory of all of its computer
systems including hardware and software and contacted the maker of
the computer to determine whether or not it will be compliant for the year
2000 computer glitch.
While much of the citys hardware was made compliant,
several software programs will need to be replaced, said Jeff Mikorski,
community and economic development director.
It makes more sense economically to replace the
computers that arent compliant rather than making them compliant part-by-part,
Mikorski said. Its only like a $100 difference if you bit-and-piece a
computer together or if you buy a new one, he said. Mikorski believes
that all the citys departments should be compliant by New Years Day.
If things do happen, its going to be things that we werent able to control.
The potential problems the city cant control, such
as utilities and banks, are being monitored. The city has kept in touch
with all area utility companies and banks to ensure that they are working
to become compliant with the problem.
Mikorski said many are either ready or are on their way to fixing the
problem. The Clarksburg Millennium Committee will serve as contact point
for citizens and utility companies.
The committee, which consists of a group of about
20 residents, plans on holding seminars throughout the year to educate
citizens about issues they may face when the clock strikes 2000.
Namely, the city will try to bring in representatives
of area utility companies to indicate where they are in the process and
answer and questions. Point blank people will be able to ask them questions,