LEWISBURG (WVDN) – After Greenbrier County Commissioner Mike McClung serves one year on probation and attends training, three misdemeanor charges against him are expected to be dropped.
The three charges, including unauthorized access to computer services, unauthorized possession of computer data or programs, and unauthorized possession of computer information, were filed by Special Prosecuting Attorney Brian Parsons on January 22, 2020.
McClung allegedly took a hard drive from the Greenbrier Valley Airport without the permission of airport staff or the Greenbrier Valley Airport Authority. The case was dormant between its filing and late 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Pursuant to the agreement, the defendant in this case is required to be on probation for a year and follow all the rules regulations, and as I said, will be required to attend ethics training, as a further instruction of how to handle matters that that occur in the service of the public as a county administrator, as a county commissioner,” Parsons explained after the hearing.
During the hearing on Tuesday, February 15, Parsons stated he and McClung met that morning, an hour before the hearing, and struck a deal for a pretrial diversion. Rather than enter a guilty or no contest plea, Parsons agreed to drop the charges on two main conditions: McClung serve one year on probation, and he attend a training with the West Virginia Ethics Commission on the Open Meetings Act.
“He waived the statute of limitations, and the matter would proceed to trial if the agreement is not held up on his end,” Parsons said. “… I mean, [it’s] not the crime of the century, but when you see somebody do something that’s improper as a prosecutor, you don’t do something, then you are the problem.”
The agreement would not see McClung pay a fine, serve any time in prison, or require him to plead guilty to the three charges.
“There wasn’t, per se, appropriate punishment that needed to be handed down, but that the matter needed to be documented and that I did feel that some ethics portion of the agreement was necessary,” Parsons said. “… I thought that was a really important piece of this, to just remind folks that even though you hold a high political position, you still have to answer to the rules of ethics and be transparent and use good judgment in all of your decision making.”
When Judge Andrew Dimlich asked McClung if he had reviewed the agreement and if he agreed to it, McClung stated “yes, Your Honor.”
Parsons also noted during that hearing that he “probably spent more time on this than I should have” and that the West Virginia Ethics Commission was setting up a training specifically for McClung to attend as part of this deal.
McClung declined to publicly comment.
For more on the issues that led McClung to pick up the airport files in the first place, see “Whistle-Blower Claim Dismissed In Suit Against Greenbrier Commission, Airport Authority” at wvdn.com/26071, “Dismissal Motion Filed In Case Between Former Airport Director and Gbr. Commission (Expanded Online Version)” at wvdn.com/27190, “Commissioner McClung Pleads Not Guilty” at wvdn.com/23178, and “Case Against Commissioner McClung Moves Forward” at wvdn.com/27191.