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Greenbrier County officials charged in pool saga

LEWISBURG, W.Va. — A Greenbrier County grand jury has returned matching misdemeanor indictments against the county commission’s president and immediate past president.

Indicted on charges of allegedly misappropriating hotel occupancy tax funds were Greenbrier Commission President Karen Lobban and former president Betty Crookshanks, who left office at the end of December 2012.

Both are accused of voting on Dec. 10, 2012, to pay money generated by the occupancy tax to the New River Community and Technical College Foundation for a purpose “not authorized by law.”

Although not specified in the indictments, the vote taken during the commission meeting in question was to allocate $1.3 million for restoration of the aquatic facility located in a building on the college’s campus.

Contacted by The Register-Herald on Thursday, the day the indictments were made public, both defendants offered comments.

“We did nothing intentionally wrong,” Lobban said. “We tried to promote tourism and get a swimming pool for the kids and the elderly people and the disabled. We didn’t receive anything personally from it.”

Crookshanks expressed surprise at the charges, saying she had relied on legal advice given by Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick I. Via during contract negotiations with New River for a lease to operate the swimming pool…

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