By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Former Canaan Valley State Park and Resort Director of Operations, Michael Scott Chaney, was sentenced in Circuit Court on Tuesday, March 9 by Circuit Court Judge Lynn A Nelson. Chaney, age 57, of Harmon, plead guilty to five counts of felony embezzlement. Chaney was charged with stealing from taxpayers nearly $165,000 worth of items used for personal use, from high-end Christmas decorations and guns to having fuel delivered to his residency.
Chaney worked for the Canaan Valley State Park and Resort overseeing the day-to-day operations of the resort for the management company Regency Hotel Management. Starting in 2008, Chaney started making purchases of tangible goods, which were paid for with state money, for his own use. In October of 2020 the embezzlement was discovered when Chaney took medical leave and invoices were discovered for items purchased that were not on the resort property.
Chaney was to serve a sentence of one to ten years for each of the five counts in a state facility, with the sentences to be served concurrently but just after serving a mere five months Chaney and his lawyer have petitioned the court for early release under the Rule 35 motion.
Chaney’s lawyer based the grounds for possible early release in his statement to Judge Nelson by stating that Chaney has learned his lesson, has paid back all his restitution (thanks to generous family members), and the failing health of Chaney’s wife who is awaiting results from a mammogram.
In his statement to the court Chaney said, “I stand here today with humility and with the deepest remorse for my previous wrong and illegal passive actions. I have and will continue to accept full responsibility for what I did. It was extremely wrong. I apologize to all my victims, my wife, my family, and to the Tucker County judicial system.”
Per his plea agreement, Chaney paid $152,426 in restitution to Regency Hotel Management, LLC. and $20,000 to Canaan Valley Resort general fund for the cost of the audit.
Tucker County Prosecutor, Savannah Wilkins, reminded the court of the crime Chaney committed. Wilkins said, “I just want to remind the court that the first receipt we found was for Crazy Harry’s over in Elkins from 2008. Restitution of $172,000 was paid but there were hundreds of thousands of dollars in transfers from ticket sales to inflate the profitability of the retail shop that Sam England testified to. So, $172,000 was what we could prove but there were hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a decade in occurrences. Five months is not a long time when talking about this activity going on from 2008 and moving forward.”
After Wilkins motioned for the court to allow Chaney to remain in custody at least until his parole hearing in March of 2023, Judge Nelson advised Chaney and his lawyer and Wilkins that he would take all information presented under advisement and make his decision at a later date. Nelson will inform every one of his decision once he has made it.