- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Supreme Court has suspended a former Randolph County prosecutor’s law license for three years for misconduct during his tenure in office.

Richard T. Busch violated professional rules of conduct in two criminal cases between January 2009 and his resignation on Dec. 5, 2011, the court said in an order issued Wednesday.

According to the order, Busch ignored the defense’s request in an embezzlement case for documents stored on a computer hard drive, disobeyed Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Wilfong’s order to provide copies of the documents to the defense, and made false statements to Wilfong about the hard drive’s whereabouts. Wilfong dismissed the charges against the defendant in that case.

Busch also obstructed the defense’s access to an alleged victim’s recorded statements in a sexual abuse case, and gave false statements to Wilfong about the evidence’s whereabouts, the Supreme Court said. Wilfong found Busch in contempt in that case.

“There is simply no justification for permitting Mr. Busch’s ability to practice law to go unimpeded after he engaged in such egregious conduct as a public official,” the court said in its order.

Busch contended that he was inexperienced in criminal law and that his conduct was negligent but not intentional. He had suggested a lesser suspension, saying three years was too harsh.

“If Mr. Busch’s actions were truly negligent and not intentional, he had numerous opportunities to make amends. He made a conscious choice, however, to maintain his misrepresentations to the lower court,” the Supreme Court said in its order.

“We find that Mr. Busch’s pattern of misconduct, coupled with his habit of continuing his dishonest behavior even when provided opportunities to remedy the same, was a detriment to the public office, to the State of West Virginia as his client, to the public who deserved efficiency and protection from the public office, to the legal system, and to the legal profession,” the court said.

A telephone listing for a Richard T. Busch in Elkins has been disconnected.

Busch must be evaluated by a mental health provider before he can petition for reinstatement of his law license. He also must undergo an additional 12 hours of continuing legal education with a focus on ethics.

If Busch’s law license is reinstated, he must spend two years on probation with his practice supervised by an active attorney.

Busch had more than a year remaining on his term when he resigned. His resignation came one day before he was to meet with the Randolph County Commission to discuss the findings of a county investigation of alleged personnel issues and other problems in his office.

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