Ira Haught -candidate for judge faces...

Ira Haught -candidate for judge faces charges

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United States

#1 Aug 26, 2012
Part one of two ....

Ritchie attorney, judicial candidate accused of misappropriating funds, deceit
8/24/2012 7:55 AM By Lawrence Smith -Statehouse Bureau

CHARLESTON - A Ritchie County attorney, who is a candidate for circuit judge, will take a detour from the campaign trial to answer ethics charges that have been filed against him.

The Lawyer Disciplinary Board on April 27 filed a two-count statement of charges against Ira M. Haught. In the statement, the Board, the prosecutorial arm of the state Supreme Court, accuses Haught, 53, a sole practitioner in Harrisville of committing six violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct when he, in one case, converted money belonging to a client for his personal use, and attempted to deceive investigators who he was working for in another.

A statement of charges acts like an indictment for disciplinary purposes.

Conversion of funds

The first count stems from a complaint filed by Gerald A. Heister. In his complaint filed May 27, 210, Heister, board chairman for the National Rendezvous and Living History Foundation, alleged Haught received from funds illegally taken from the Foundation by a former employee, Linda Blizard, as payment for Haught's fee to represent in a criminal action the Foundation filed against her.

In response to the complaint, Haught said the issues were resolved when a civil suit Blizard, and her husband, Richard, filed against NRLHF in 2008 was settled on Sept. 10, 2009, with the Blizard's agreeing to repay NRLHF $5,000. However, in subsequent correspondence with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the arm of the Court that investigates ethics complaints, Haught said while he received the disputed funds from the Blizards, none were used to pay his legal fees.

Heister disputed that by providing ODC a check made payable to Linda Blizard and Haught for $11,402.50. The check was cashed on June 30, 2008 Haught's signatures being one on the back.

Though when he gave a sworn statement to ODC on Dec. 7, 2010, he admitted the signature was his, Haught said he just endorsed it, and gave to the Blizards to cash. Also, he admitted that after the Blizard's cashed the check, they gave it to him to keep in his office's safe, and he returned it to them when the civil suit was dismissed.

Haught was asked to provide any receipts showing what the Blizards paid him. In a letter dated Dec. 14, 2010, Haught said "he could not find any receipts for the year 2008 to show any amounts paid by Linda Blizard."

According to the statement, a review of Haught's client trust account showed a deposit was made on June 30, 2008 for $11,042.40. A month later the balance was $1,078.60 with "none of the checks paid out from that account in July of 2008 were made payable to Linda Blizard, Richard Blizard or to the NRLHF."

United States

#2 Aug 26, 2012
part 2 of 2 ...

(cont'd from above)

Later, on Sept. 11, 2009, Haught wrote a check for $7,062.50 to Richard Blizard from the account.

Because he converted funds for his personal use, and lied about it, the Board found Haught violated Rules dealing with safekeeping of property, misconduct, specifically "engage[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation," and Bar admission and disciplinary matters by "knowingly make a false statement of material fact."

Who's my client?

The second count stems from a complaint filed by Jack and Wanda Wright on July 6, 2010. According to their complaint, the Wrights attempted unsuccessfully for four years to correct a deed to property they purchased in Doddridge County to include oil, gas and mineral rights Haught left out when preparing it.

According to the statement, the previous owner, L.L. Tonkin, contacted Haught in April 2005 about selling the property to David Thompson. However, because Thompson did not provide the money to complete the transfer, the deal fell though.

Later, in July 2006, Tonkin called Haught about selling the property to the Wrights. In a letter dated July 28, Haught said the cost to purchase the property would be $14,282.60.

After he received a check for the amount on Aug. 1, Haught deposited the funds. About two weeks later, he recorded the deed, and closed his file.

In his response to the Wright's complaint, Haught said his involvement in the case began when he was contacted by a pre-paid legal service used by Thompson, who later paid him $600. Also, Haught said he considered Tonkin, not the Wrights, to be his client, and because Tonkin didn't sign the corrective deed, then the oil, gas and mineral rights were not to be included.

At ODC's request, Haught provided a copy of the file he kept. Entries in it show Haught had correspondence with Thompson, Tonkin and the Wright about the property. In a letter sent to ODC on Feb. 16, Haught said he "did not have any written representation contracts for L.L. Tonkin, David Thompson or Jack and Wanda Wright."

Because he lied to ODC to avoid detection as to who was his client, the Board also found Haught violated the Rules dealing with misconduct and Bar admission and disciplinary matters.

An evidentiary hearing on the statement of charges before the Board's hearing panel subcommittee is scheduled for Aug. 31 at the W. Kent Carper Justice and Public Safety Complex in Charleston.

Haught is the Republican nominee for judge in the Third Judicial Circuit which includes Ritchie, Doddridge and Pleasants counties. He is seeking to fill the unexpired term of Judge Robert Holland who died in September 2010.

The following December, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Pleasants County Prosecutor Tim Sweeney, 55, to fill the vacancy. Sweeney is Haught's Democratic opponent in November's general election.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case number 12-0528

Weston, WV

#3 Aug 26, 2012
WOW --- Who would have thought it?????
True Blue

West Union, WV

#4 Aug 26, 2012
Guess we need to wait until August 31 to see what the outcome is of the evidentiary hearing.
cross over voter

United States

#5 Aug 26, 2012
Saw the original article on the web. Doddridge e-news site has it up with a link to the article.

Haught is a republican candidate. But wonder how this will affect voting in a county of 2-1 republican voters, if it should turn out to be more than allegations. Agree with True Blue, we have to await the outcome of the evidentiary hearing. But would seem the timing couldn't be worse for him.

Washington, DC

#6 Sep 9, 2012
August 31st has come and gone. Anyone hear what happened at that evidentiary hearing for Ira Haught? I saw something on the news about it got postponed, but no new date. Will the date be after the election? The charges are not something that a candidate should still have hanging over his head on election day. Something stinks. Hope he don't get elected --what if he did and then faced the charges and was convicted? Would it mean he could get disbarred if found guilty of the charges?
Get Real

Weston, WV

#7 Sep 10, 2012
Do you really believe this will be heard in the courts PRIOR to the election????

This could be seen in 2 ways -- Either HE doesn't want to be prooven guilty or those who brought the charges don't want him to be prooven innocent --

In reality --- how can the voters even consider voting for him with this hanging over him? Innocent or guilty it is what it is ---

Columbus, OH

#8 Sep 10, 2012
How can anybody consider voting for him when he is constantly listed in the Ritchie County newspapers for beind deliquent in property taxes? I do not understand how anybody can see his name plastered in the paper every year as a deadbeat, but has the nerve to run for a political office.
dont just vote your party

Derwood, MD

#9 Sep 10, 2012
The fact is, republicans outnumber democrts in Doddridge by 2-1. Which means if people aren't made aware of Haught's backgound and these allegations, he could win the election by default just based on the fact that republican voters would pull the lever to vote a straight tkt!

We can't let that happen! I think Sweeny has much more integrity and ethics and he certainly doesn't have these kind of charges hanging over his had. Good grief--look on haught's website--he takes Paypal for paying your legal bill with him---strange! hahaha But main concern is with these charges against him and investgation by judiciary board could he be disbarred if found guilty? and then if he's doddridge judge wouldn't we look like fools for electing him. And I hear too many stories about what he does with these o&g leases he's embroiled in. do we want a judge who would have to recuse himself from almost every case in doddridge cause of his ties to some of these people who exploit the common people of the county? this info needs to be shared with every voter. republicans wake up and take a close look at which judge is the better choice!

Cairo, WV

#11 Sep 12, 2012
I wouldn't take a check from him.

Harrisville, WV

#12 Sep 14, 2012
Didn't the West Union Bank advertise his house for sale last year for not paying his loan? They must not take his checks either
let us find out

United States

#13 Sep 14, 2012
whazzup wrote:
Didn't the West Union Bank advertise his house for sale last year for not paying his loan? They must not take his checks either
I just want to know why the evidentiary hearing to review the charges against Ira Haught was postponed. It was scheduled for Aug. 31st but got postponed for some reason. Why? And when is it now? Or have they not picked a date? Wonder how it would look if he wins the election, becomes the judge, and then finally a date is held for him to face the charges against him and he were to be found guilty of misappropriating funds. If he got disbarred while in office, well that sure makes Doddridge citizens look stupid for putting him in office. Sure the saying goes "innocent until proven guilty" but the fact is, a judge should try to avoid any such circumstance that might possibly cause themselves to be under suspicion--and if you read the article in the paper it sure sounds like he wasn't very smart to have done the things that got him in that predicament. Or maybe it's not a question of his not being very smart --but maybe a question of his being too arrogant in thinking he was above the law?
nothing new

Bridgeport, WV

#14 Sep 30, 2012
Laughing wrote:
How can anybody consider voting for him when he is constantly listed in the Ritchie County newspapers for beind deliquent in property taxes? I do not understand how anybody can see his name plastered in the paper every year as a deadbeat, but has the nerve to run for a political office.
having your. Taxes listed doesn't make a person unfit for office people who use this claim have a poor understanding of buisness practice. but his other issues should disqualify him
DC Resident

Glen Allen, VA

#15 Oct 2, 2012
Don't forget that it is not JUST Doddridge County that will vote to election him for judge ... it will also be all of Ritchie County and Pleasants County. It would be good to get the hearing completed before the election ... why elect someone that may not really be eligible to serve?
Java Joe

United States

#16 Oct 5, 2012
Well does anyone know the current status of the case filed against Ira Haught ? The article said he was being accused of misappropriation of clients' fund. so it gets postponed from the August date. what gives/? Cant imagine electing a man who is facing a judiciary hearing because of his conduct. Our next judge? only if Doddridge is sstupid enough to think that voting a straight part ticket is the way to go. He has too much baggage and under too much scrutiny to be our judge if you ask me.

Nottingham, MD

#17 Oct 11, 2012
So what is the status of that investigation of Haught on misappropriation of funds? will it not go to court until after elected? And then if he is disbarred or convicted will the gov get to appoint another judge? Hope the other two counties of Pleasants and Ritchie who are included with Doddrdige for voting for this judge seat, will have more sense than any of those people in Doddridge who might vote for him jsut cause he's a republican like them

I prefer an honest candidate for judge with no allegations against him and a credible,respectible reputation. That would be Judge Sweeney in my book

Weston, WV

#18 Oct 13, 2012
Have heard that Sweeny seems to be fair and by the book ---- Am not aware of any hidden dirt --- Seems to be the one to choose ---

West Union, WV

#19 Oct 13, 2012
Does not the judge and the P.A. atty work together in most cases ? and if so,dont we need a new PA to get crime off the streets and cases into court and not plea bargains most the time??

United States

#20 Oct 13, 2012
Saw in the Herald this week that Kim H Holland, Judge Holland's widow endorses Tim Sweeney to fill her late husband's seat. That just goes to show that in this election people shouldn't just vote their party ticket. Holland was a republican and Sweeney is a democrat running in a county where republican voters outnumber 2-1.

Ira Hauight is the republican candidate. In my book, he has a dark cloud hanging over his head with current allegations against him for misappropriation of funds and a hearing before the judicial review board that has been postponed until after the election? Something stinks here.

If you haven't read about the case against him, you should. Also, he's heavily involved in oil and gas leases himself, so it would seem he'd have to recuse himself from hearing any court cases involving ny oil and gas leases and disputes on an almost daily basis, just to be fair and prove unbiased.

As far as I know, there is not "baggage" that comes with Sweeney. He seems a person of integrity, and one who has proven himself on the bench as being one who is fair and attentive to duty.

I guess I just can't get into a candidate (Haught) who accepts payments for his legal services via paypal on his website. Weird, if you ask me! LOL
Renee Lantz

Troy, MI

#21 Nov 21, 2012
I hired Mr. Haught to represent me in a divorce hearing and the whole process he handled it unprofessionally and I had to get Brian carr to starightne out his mess then he filed a judgement against me and received his money even though I protested it how it was handled and the lies he told me during the whole proces. Hes the biggest fraud I know. He made mistakes in his filing and when I pointed them out I had to pay forhis stupidity. I filed charges against him with the ethnics board but to no avail. His billings are padded and people have to pay because Ritchie County politicians all stick together.

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