Mark Thomas Indicted on Embezzlement Charge in Ohio County
WHEELING — An Ohio County grand jury has indicted local attorney Mark A. Thomas on a charge of embezzlement by fiduciary for allegedly misappropriating $36,000 from the estate of a deceased client. Thomas also serves as a Belmont County commissioner.
According to the indictment, the alleged embezzlement involved the estate of Dolores Anast, and the offense reportedly occurred in October 2014. The complaint was made by Joanna Gusta, executrix of the estate.
West Virginia State Police troopers conducted the investigation and presented their findings to the grand jury on Jan. 8. D. Luke Furbee from Tyler County has been appointed special prosecutor in the case.
Furbee released the following statement today:
“I was appointed special prosecuting attorney for Ohio County in September 2016 to deal with a complaint made to the West Virginia State Police regarding Mr. Mark Thomas. From that time to the present, I have supervised an investigation of the complaint. Consequently, an indictment has been returned by the Ohio County grand jury on Jan. 8, 2018 charging Mr. Thomas with one felony count of embezzlement by a fiduciary.
“Respectfully, an indictment is only an accusation. Mr. Thomas is presumed innocent of the charge and that will not change unless he is later determined to be guilty in an appropriate court proceeding. He is entitled to a fair hearing and a prosecution that is not interested in grandstanding. Likewise, the State of West Virginia and its citizens residing in Ohio County are entitled to a vigorous prosecution seeking justice in a court of law concerning the charge lodged by the grand jury. To the best of my skill and judgment, that will be the kind of prosecution I will conduct.”
“Therefore, absent some extraordinary circumstance, I will have no further public comment on the matter until it is concluded.”
Thomas serves as a Belmont County commissioner and has operated a private law practice in St. Clairsville. According to officials at the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct in Columbus, Thomas’ law license was indefinitely suspended in Ohio in 2015 after he reportedly failed to file an answer to a formal complaint pending before the board.
Today, officials explained that when a law license is indefinitely suspended, an attorney has to wait two years to file for re-instatement in Ohio. To date, officials said Thomas’ license remains suspended in both Ohio and West Virginia.
In response to the charges, via email, Thomas said, “I have not even seen the charges, so on the advice of counsel, I cannot comment.”