By Rob Snyder
The Spirit of Jeffferson
CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. ‚ Jefferson County Commissioner Eric Bell has been charged with three felonies, sex offenses that could send put him behind bars for more than a quarter-century.
The 37-year-old Republican, a Navy veteran, was elected to a six-year term on the commission in 2014.
Bell appeared before Berkeley County Magistrate Charles Cole Friday.
According to documents filed with magistrate court, Bell is charged with sexual abuse by a person of trust; distribution/display of obscene material to a minor; and possession of child pornography.
If convicted, Bell could be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000 for the first count; five years and/or a $25,000 fine for Count 2; and two years behind bars and/or a $2,000 fine for the third count.
Bell turned himself into Berkeley County magistrate officials a day after a warrant for his arrest was issued by Jefferson County Magistrate William E. Senseney.
Bail for the three offenses was set at $45,000 but Bell was released on his own personal recognizance.
As a condition for his release Friday, Bell agreed not to leave West Virginia without the court’s written approval.
Bell, a Georgia native who lives in Charles Town with his husband William Lukenbill, formerly served as chief financial officer and director of operations at Bloomery Plantation Distillery in Charles Town.
More recently, he has been working with the Jefferson County Juvenile Drug Court.
According to his Facebook profile, he is pursuing a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree at Shepherd University.
When he was running for the commission, Bell explained his reason for seeking office to the Spirit of Jefferson this way: “I am a regular guy, and not your typical politician. I decided to run for office because I am terrified of the future I see for my children and their children. We have made a mess of this country and I think I can help fix some of the problems by starting at home.”