Cumberland Times-News

May 20, 2013

Piedmont town foreman enters guilty plea

Jeffrey Alderton
Cumberland Times-News

— PIEDMONT, W.Va. — Piedmont Town Foreman John Shingler is facing a prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of conversion of government property Thursday in U.S. District Court, Northern District of West Virginia, Martinsburg, according to court documents.

Under the plea agreement, five other counts related to theft of government property in a six-count indictment against Shingler returned in November will be dismissed at sentencing, pending the results of a presentencing investigation.

Shingler is also subject to being ordered by the court to make restitution of $111,000.

According to federal court records obtained by the Times-News, Shingler represented the town of Piedmont when he obtained six surplus property Gulf Stream travel trailers from the West Virginia State Agency for Surplus Property in July 2009. The WVSASP is an organization designated to distribute surplus property from federal and state agencies to nonprofit organizations at substantially reduced prices

The value of the trailers was placed at $111,000 by the WVSASP.

Shingler claimed the property was being obtained for use by the city of Piedmont.

Private citizens, including Shingler, paid the city $1,000 for each of the six surplus trailers, and the city then issued a check for $6,000 to the WVSASP for the surplus property.

The city of Piedmont, according to the court papers, had agreed with the WVSASP that three of the travel trailers would be used for an office for “the upcoming water project”; two for use as offices for the street department; and one for use by law enforcement.

The city agreed to put the travel trailers to use within 12 months of receipt and to use the trailers for 18 months from the date they were put into use by the city. The city, under the purchase agreement, could not trade, sell or otherwise dispose of the trailers without the permission of the General Services Administration.

In August 2009, Shingler picked up the trailers and transported them to Piedmont. The trailers were subsequently claimed by the private citizens who paid for them. The trailers were not used as intended by the city under the agreement and the trailers were not stored on city property, according to the court documents.

In June 2010, an inspector for the West Virginia Department of Administration Division of Purchasing performed a compliance inspection on the travel trailers at the city of Piedmont. Private citizens returned the travel trailers to city property for the inspection.

During the inspection, Shingler, as part of his duties as foreman, completed a Federal Property Utilization Compliance Report falsely certifying to WVSASP a proper use of the travel trailers.

The court documents further detail that in August 2009 near Piedmont, Shingler converted to personal use one of the Gulf Stream travel trailers, valued at more than $1,000, that was federal surplus property provided to the city of Piedmont under the provisions of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul T. Camilletti prosecuted the case in which Shingler was represented by attorney Katherine J. Dooley. U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Joel presided.