Mezzatesta, Friend Acquitted on Fraud Charges

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A federal jury has acquitted former House Education Chairman Jerry Mezzatesta and former Hampshire County schools superintendent David Friend on charges of defrauding the Hampshire County Board of Education.

Mezzatesta and Friend were accused of conspiring to misapply public funds between January 2004 and June 2005.

The prosecution said they diverted part of a 75-thousand-dollar state grant to emergency services and library programs without the state's permission.

Both men took the stand yesterday (Thursday) to defend their actions. Both testified that they did not do anything illegal.

The assistant U-S attorney prosecuting the case said Mezzatesta, a nine-term state Delegate, was trying to gain a political advantage in his 2004 re-election campaign. Mezzatesta lost the race.

Mezzatesta's lawyer called the case -- quote -- "a witch hunt."

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