1CHARLESTON — A U.S attorney is confirming that federal authorities are investigating suspicious deaths at a Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia, as more federal officials demand answers.

Sen. Joe Manchin and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie have called for an expedited investigation of up to 11 suspicious deaths at the facility in Clarksburg. At least two have been classified as homicides.

U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said in a statement on Friday that the ``ongoing and comprehensive federal criminal investigation’’ into the deaths of some patients at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center began as soon as potential criminal activity was discovered and is a top priority.

Powell said he understands the call for a speedy resolution. He declined to comment further to protect the integrity of the investigation.

State senator charged with

prostitution

2CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ West Virginia state Sen. Mike Maroney has been charged with soliciting a prostitute.

A Marshall County court clerk says the Republican lawmaker turned himself in and was arraigned Wednesday morning on three misdemeanor charges. He has pleaded not guilty and paid a $4,500 bond.

A criminal complaint says Maroney exchanged text messages to discuss prices and set up meetings with a woman who has admitted to being a prostitute. He also sent her a picture of himself.

Police have been investigating the woman and say two people have already pleaded guilty to soliciting her for sex.

Maroney’s lawyer, Paul Harris, didn’t immediately return a message left at his office.

The 51-year-old Maroney is the chairman of the Senate committee on health and human resources.

University,

federal agency

partner to fight

opioid crisis

3HUNTINGTON — A university in West Virginia will work with the investigative division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fight the opioid crisis.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito announced last week the partnership between Marshall University and Homeland Security Investigations.

Sen. Capito says the school in Huntington will receive more than $4 million to develop a tool to disrupt and dismantle criminal activity related to opioids.

Marshall University digital forensics and information assurance program Director John Sammons says students, faculty and staff are looking forward to the project because they’ve seen the impact of the epidemic in their community.

Sammons says the partnership will focus on transnational criminal activity, including cybercrimes.

Sen. Capito is the chairwoman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.  

Warner hopes for 100 voter registration drives next month

4CHARLESTON — Secretary of State Mac Warner said his office hopes there are at least 100 voter registration drives in September during National Voter Registration Month.

Warner said in a news release that everyone should check their voter registration and make sure their voter information is correct.

Any group interested in hosting a voter registration drive can submit a form to the secretary of state’s office. The National Voter Registration Day project provides access to promotional support and materials including an organizer’s toolkit, posters and social media graphics.

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