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WV senator denies prostitution link

A lawyer for West Virginia Sen. Mike Maroney wrote a letter to the Marshall County prosecuting attorney on Monday denying that his client met with a woman charged with prostitution.

The letter came after police executed a search warrant and seized Maroney’s cellphone last month.

The letter states that Maroney, a Republican from Marshall County and chairman of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, does not know Cortnie Clark.

Clark has been at the center of an investigation into an alleged prostitution ring in Maroney’s hometown of Glen Dale.

“We have obtained the video statement of Cortnie Clark, wherein she reveals that she does not know Michael Maroney, nor did she meet with him,” the letter states.

According to the warrant, provided in response to a public records request, the Allegheny County Police Department seized the phone from Maroney’s vehicle at the Pittsburgh International Airport on July 31.

The Pittsburgh officers were operating in cooperation with the Glen Dale Police Department, which is handling the investigation into Clark.

The warrant does not explicitly connect Maroney and Clark. Maroney has not been charged with any crime.

In a phone call Friday, Maroney acknowledged the search but declined to comment on it.

“There’s nothing to this story,” he said. “I can’t comment on it, and I’m not going to comment on it, but there’s nothing to this story.”

Wheeling attorney Paul Harris, who said he’s personal friends with Maroney, wrote the letter to Marshall County Prosecuting Attorney Rhonda Wade on Maroney’s behalf.

Harris said a law clerk at his office took the statement in response to “rumors” that tend to come up in small towns. He declined to say how his office came into contact with Clark. He provided the letter and the video of the woman identifying herself as Clark to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Moundsville attorney David White, who is representing Clark, declined to comment Monday or confirm her identity in the video.

The Wheeling Intelligencer first reported on the investigation into Clark. The newspaper also identified five men who have been charged with conspiracy, house of ill fame and assignation and prostitution in connection with the investigation.

Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron, whose name is listed on the search warrant, said Maroney and his attorney contacted him and asked him to unlock Maroney’s vehicle to assist police in executing the warrant.

Herron, who said he is Maroney’s brother-in-law, drove a car key up from West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle to the Pittsburgh airport.

He said he did not know what police were investigating.

“Mike’s lawyer indicated the police department wanted to search his car,” Herron said. “Mike was in Utah, so I took the key up and opened the car. That’s all I did.”

Both Herron and Harris said they believed Maroney was traveling at the time the phone was seized.

Harris’ letter also states that it is his understanding that “an action will be brought in circuit court in the near future challenging the constitutionality of the statute.”

He elaborated on the point in an interview.

“This statute, in which [Clark] was charged under, has some real problems. If you look at Ohio’s prostitution statute, they define all the terms — What is prostitution? What is this? What is that? — West Virginia doesn’t do that,” he said. “There’s no definition section under the statute, nor is there case law.”

Wade and officials with the Glen Dale police could not be reached for comment.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at

jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow

@jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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