Sen. Maroney Denies Involvement in Prostitution Case
GLEN DALE — Police investigating a prostitution ring in Glen Dale seized the cell phone of West Virginia Sen. Michael Maroney earlier this month in what his attorney is calling a “fishing expedition” motivated by politics.
Paul Harris, Maroney’s Wheeling-based lawyer, denied his client is involved in the case in which Glen Dale police have arrested six men in connection with accused prostitute Cortnie Ann Clark during a five-month investigation. Maroney, a first-term Republican state senator, has not been charged.
Glen Dale police also attempted to search Maroney’s home in the Marshall County city July 29, but he was not home, Harris said. Glen Dale investigators then worked with Allegheny County Police in Pennsylvania to secure a warrant in that state to search Maroney’s sport-utility vehicle while it was parked at Pittsburgh International Airport, according to documents provided by Allegheny County. Authorities seized his cell phone that was left in his car while he was on a trip out west.
Police were able to enter Maroney’s car while it was parked at the airport because his brother-in-law, Robert Herron, had an additional key to get in. Herron, who serves as city manager of Wheeling, said he was contacted by Harris and Maroney and told to help investigators with their search because he had the spare key.
“I did this as a private citizen,” Herron said. “I was asked by Mike and his attorney.”
The search on Aug. 3 took less than an hour, Herron said. He declined to say if investigators seized anything else in the car besides Maroney’s cell phone, which was wedged down far in the seat. Herron said Maroney accidentally left the phone in the car and thought he had lost it.
Clark, 30, of Glen Dale, was arrested June 14 and charged with operating a house of ill fame/assignation and prostitution. She is free on $2,000 bond while awaiting her pre-trial hearing Sept. 4 in Marshall County Magistrate Court.
Police confiscated Clark’s cell phone after her arrest and found text messages from various men allegedly setting up sexual encounters for money, leading to charges filed in June and July against at least six men.
“I think the folks in Glen Dale police are on a fishing expedition,” Harris said. “Anyone who pops up, they grab their phone. Really, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Harris said he interviewed Cortnie Clark over the weekend in Weirton, and she denied ever meeting Maroney.
“She doesn’t know him and never met him,” Harris said. “A number of people used her phone. This appears to be a tremendous waste of police resources.”
After recording the video interview, Harris sent a letter to Marshall County Prosecutor Rhonda Wade on Monday informing her of Clark’s statements and challenging the constitutionality of the statute used in the investigation. The letter also asks Wade to return Maroney’s cell phone to him.
Wade declined to comment, saying she does not discuss matters for which she does not have a criminal complaint. Glen Dale police Officer Ezekiel Goddard, who is leading the investigation, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Harris said they decided to send the letter to Wade after hearing rumors circulate that Maroney was being investigated.
“We hear these things, people talking in the community. Mike has an issue with that,” Harris said. “We wanted to make sure this thing is put to bed and show he doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
Harris said Maroney knows Clark’s mother, but has no involvement with the woman accused of prostitution.
“It’s one of those things where he’s cooperating. He doesn’t have anything to hide. This is all silly,” Harris said. “There are real crimes out there, and the (police) in Glen Dale are doing whatever they want to do, but I get the sense they’re targeting Mike because of his political positions.”