Kanawha judge 1 of 3 appointed to hear Parkersburg controversy

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A three-judge panel was appointed Friday to hear allegations against Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell.

State Supreme Court Chief Judge Margaret Workman appointed Mercer County Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn, Preston County Circuit Judge Lawrance Miller and Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit to the panel. Workman’s order said the hearing would take place June 4-5 at the Wood County Judicial Building in Parkersburg.

State law requires the appointment of a panel to hear allegations against an elected officials if the required legal signatures are turned in as part of a petition. The document was turned in earlier this week and amended and refiled Thursday in Wood County.

The petition calls for Newell’s removal and accuses him of unethical conduct in connection with an affair involving the city’s finance director Ashley Flowers. The petition also claims that Newell has extravagantly spent city money on personal travel.

Newell has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, claiming that his political detractors have used the story as an excuse to remove him.

“All I can say is that is has been exaggerated and I don’t want to say much until we get before a three-judge panel,” Mayor Newell said earlier this week on MetroNews Talkline.