A special prosecutor has demanded financial and employee information from Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants’ office, as well as personal financial information from Plants and his wife, who used to be his secretary.
Sid Bell, special prosecutor appointed by the state Supreme Court to handle criminal matters against Plants, filed several subpoenas May 9 in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
James Cagle, Plants’ attorney, filed a motion to block Bell’s requests Wednesday. Cagle argued the information requested had nothing to do with the charges Plants faces.
“The subpoena is designed either to harass, to threaten, and/or, to begin some faux investigation which has nothing to do with these two actions,” Cagle wrote.
He argued Bell’s authority extends only to the domestic battery and domestic violence protection order violation charges, both of which are misdemeanors.
Plants, a 37-year-old Republican first elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, was charged earlier this year after his ex-wife, Allison Plants, filed a complaint with State Police alleging the prosecutor had been “excessive” when he disciplined their son.
He is accused of whipping his 11-year-old son with a belt to the point of bruises after the boy pushed his younger stepbrother off of a scooter. He allegedly violated the protection order when he approached his sons in their mother’s parked vehicle while she was inside a Fort Hill area pharmacy.
Bell’s subpoenas demand that Plants’ Office and Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick’s office turn over all logs or records of sick leave, annual leave and vacation time for employees, particularly Sarah Foster, now known as Sarah Plants.
Bell also is demanding all documents related to wage increases or decreases for Sarah Plants. Also requested were financial records, including invoices, receipts, expenditures from all accounts including drug forfeiture accounts, or budget line allocations that were established for the use of the prosecutor’s office.
Bell also has subpoenaed Sarah Plants’ financial information from Member’s Choice Credit Union and Mark Plants’ financial information from Sun Trust Bank.
The special prosecutor also subpoenaed the city of Charleston’s Health Insurance Benefits Administrator for information regarding the plan and policy extended to police officers and claims made by, or on behalf of, Detective Andrew Foster, Sarah Plants or Ella Foster, Sarah Plants’ youngest child.
The subpoena also asks for medical bills, costs, or charges associated with Sarah Plants’ pregnancy and the birth of Ella Foster, and which charges were paid for by the city or its insurer.
All findings are to be turned over to State Police investigators Mike Parde and Leslie Boytek.
Sarah Plants worked from 2009 until 2013 as a secretary in Plants’ office. Records obtained by the Daily Mail earlier this year showed she received more than $15,000 in pay raises while working there.
She made $23,169 in 2009, her first year on the job. She left the prosecutor’s office in late July 2013. Her salary was budgeted in 2013 for $45,500; she was paid $30,769 that year and also received a check for $6,103 in unused leave.
Sarah Plants’ brother, Nathan Nelson, now works as office manager in the prosecutor’s office. His employment was effective Aug. 1 at a salary of $45,000.
She also had multiple traffic citations dismissed without proof she had addressed the violations. She pleaded guilty earlier this year in Charleston Municipal Court to driving with an expired inspection sticker.
Mark and Allison Plants divorced in November 2012. They have two children.
Sarah Plants and Andrew Foster divorced in October 2013. They also have two children.
Mark Plants and Sarah Plants married Dec. 27 in Catlettsburg, Ky. They have one child together, Ella, born in November 2012.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint seeking to bar Mark Plants and his office from prosecuting certain domestic violence cases. The city of Charleston filed a similar complaint in Kanawha Circuit Court, which was granted by Circuit Judge Duke Bloom. Bloom ordered a special prosecutor, retired Kanawha Assistant Prosecutor Don Morris, to handle those cases.
The Supreme Court has yet to issue an opinion on the matter.
The misdemeanor charges against the prosecutor still are pending. A status hearing was set for May 21.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4850.