Ex-West Virginia Court Clerk Gets Probation in Drug Case

PETERSBURG, W.Va. (CN) – Like her co-defendants, a former West Virginia court clerk will spend the next several years on probation for her role in what prosecutors say was a meth-making operation.

Grant County Prosecutor John G. Ours announced Thursday a plea agreement in the case against Kimberly A. Hartman, the former Hardy County circuit clerk.  In exchange for Hartman entering an Alford plea to the charge of conspiracy to commit a felony, the remaining charges against her will be dismissed.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not confess guilt but admits the prosecution can likely prove the charge.

Former Hardy County Circuit Clerk Kimberly A. Hartman.

In March 2018, a Hardy County grand jury returned a 38-count indictment against Hartman, her then-husband Dennis, and another couple, William Brantner and Samantha Beatty, for allegedly conspiring to purchase the drug pseudoephedrine at local pharmacies and manufacture it into methamphetamine at the Hartmans’ home on Sunset Terrace in Moorefield, the county seat.

The indictment charged the former court clerk with five counts – two counts of accessory before the fact of possession of pseudoephedrine, one count of conspiracy and one count of child neglect or injury. The indictment alleges Hartman’s daughter was present during the attempted manufacturing process.

Since Hartman was the county circuit clerk at the time, the cases were transferred to neighboring Grant County, in the Potomac Highlands region of West Virginia. Soon after, Hartman resigned from the position she held since 2011.

At Thursday’s hearing in Petersburg, Ours explained Dennis Hartman, Brantner and Beatty had been “under the watchful eye” of the West Virginia State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation after they “maxed out” their purchases of medication containing pseudoephedrine.

In the course of the investigation, a trooper happened to be in a pharmacy when Kim Hartman purchased Sudafed, and later overheard her saying to Dennis on a cellphone, “I just purchased your orange juice,” according to prosecutors.

Since she played a passive role, Ours said the agreement reached with Hartman was satisfactory.

“The culpability of the defendant is being that of an enabler,” Ours said.

Concurring with Ours’ assessment, Grant County Circuit Court Judge James W. Courrier, Jr. accepted the plea and sentenced Hartman to five years probation and 120 hours of community service.  On the condition of good evaluation, Courrier said Hartman could be released from probation after two years.

Except for answering Courrier’s questions, Hartman did not speak during the hearing.

Nathan Walters, Hartman’s attorney, noted she wanted to make a prepared statement but decided not to at his request.

Separately, Dennis Hartman and Beatty pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit a felony. Brantner had pleaded guilty to two counts. All received suspended prison sentences and were placed on probation for seven years with the possibility of early release after three and a half. Last year, Brantner and Dennis Hartman were charged with separate probation violations.

Court records show Brantner failed drug tests and was arrested in Maryland for possession of drug paraphernalia. In May, Courrier ordered him to serve 45 days in jail with credit for time served.

In addition to failed drug tests, Dennis Hartman did not keep appointments with his probation officer or complete a drug rehabilitation program.  In October, Courrier allowed him to remain on probation on the condition he find and complete a suitable rehabilitation program.

However, following notification of additional probation violations, Courrier on Feb. 5 ordered Hartman arrested.  He is currently incarcerated awaiting an April 13 revocation hearing.

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