1-14-13 Former Jefferson sheriff pleads guilty

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MARTINSBURG,  W.Va. — Former Jefferson  County Sheriff Robert E. Shirley pleaded  guilty today to violating the civil rights  of another by using excessive force during  the arrest of a bank robber in late 2010.

United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld, II announced that Shirley, who resigned his position on Friday,  admitted to the felony offense of “Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law” at a hearing  held this afternoon in Martinsburg.  Shirley had been charged  in a two- count indictment with kicking bank robbery suspect Mark Daniel Haines in the head at least five times, breaking his nose and fracturing his orbital  bone.  The injuries  were inflicted on December 27, 2010, at the conclusion of a two-county chase of Haines, who had attempted to rob City National  Bank in Ranson,  W.Va.   By pleading  guilty Shirley agreed  that while acting under the color of law, he deprived Haines of his right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.

The incident was captured on video by cameras from police cruisers that were involved in the pursuit of Haines.

The  second  count  of  the  indictment,  which  charged   Shirley  with  “Destruction, Alteration or Falsification of Record in a Federal Investigation”, was dismissed as part of the plea agreement. That count alleged that Shirley had falsified an entry in his Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office use of force report with the intent to obstruct the federal investigation into the assault.

“It’s unfortunate when a member of the law enforcement community exceeds the scope of his authority and inflicts injuries  upon a helpless person,”  said U.S. Attorney  Ihlenfeld. “The best way to deal with bank  robbers like Mark  Haines is through the criminal  justice system, and not by the use of unnecessary violence.”

Haines has since pleaded guilty in federal court to robbing a BB&T branch in Martinsburg and was sentenced to 225 months imprisonment on that charge.  He still faces a federal charge for attempting to escape from the Eastern Regional Jail and faces up to ten years in prison on that charge.

As a result  of his felony conviction Shirley faces up to ten years in prison,  a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.  His sentence may be impacted by his conduct while on pre-trial release,  in which  it is alleged  that  Shirley  attempted to influence  the testimony of one of the government’s witnesses.  Shirley will remain  free pending sentencing but  he has been placed  on home confinement  and  was required to turn  over all of his firearms.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul T. Camilletti with assistance from the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.  It was investigated  by the Federal  Bureau  of Investigation.



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