KEYSER, W.Va. — A former Mineral County chief deputy circuit clerk is serving a prison sentence of 2-20 years after admitting to stealing public funds.

Gary Duane Feaster was sentenced Wednesday by special Circuit Judge C. Carter Williams to theft charges following a lengthy investigation by the Public Integrity and Fraud Unit of the state Auditor's Office.

"We have literally dozens of these cases," said Steve Connolly, general counsel and deputy state auditor who is the also the director of the fraud unit.

Feaster resigned Jan. 9, 2019. Two days later, county officials issued a news release saying an employee had "made a voluntary self-disclosure of the details" of theft.

"This was a good man who let his demons of alcoholism and gambling to spin him out of control," Connolly said. "Quite frankly, he could still possibly be stealing today if he had not come forth himself to disclose what he was doing."

The investigation determined that Feaster stole up to $87,000 over a three-year period. The stolen money included fines paid through the clerk's office as well as court-ordered restitution payments.

Connolly said Feaster "wanted to make amends, which is extremely unusual. He wanted to make amends and take responsibility and there was never a time he did not want to cooperate with the investigation."

Connolly, a former federal and state prosecutor who joined the state Auditor's Office two years ago, said Feaster checked himself into a rehab unit the day after he confessed to the embezzlement.

At sentencing following a plea agreement, Feaster reportedly apologized to the court for his actions. Feaster's family and friends testified in his behalf.

As part of the sentencing, Feaster was ordered to make restitution to the circuit clerk in the amount of $75,000 and an additional $41,666 to the auditor's office for the cost of the investigation. 

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