In what could be a first, a Berkeley County lawmaker's legislative wages will be garnished to settle a nearly $50,000 debt in connection to a fraudulent pest inspection, according to court documents.
"Based upon consideration of . . . testimony and inspection of the evidence, this court finds that the actions of (Delegate Larry) Faircloth demonstrate frauds against the rights of Mark Mulligan and David Haarberg," states a 2007 order from Berkeley Circuit Court.
Faircloth, R-Berkeley, still owes Mulligan and Haarberg $48,146.53, according to a court document filed last week. The document states the West Virginia State Auditor's Office must soon start withholding some of Faircloth's pay.
The freshman delegate owes money because he defrauded two men by not disclosing termite damage while inspecting a home, according to additional court documents.
Faircloth did not return several phone and email messages left Thursday. In a wide-ranging August phone interview he described several aspects of the case that he feels mitigate any claim.
"If there was any act of fraud, it was committed against me," Faircloth said.
In the spring of 2005, Mulligan and Haarberg wanted to buy a Martinsburg home to renovate and sell, according to a civil complaint. Mulligan and Haarberg are both residential appraisers for Apple Appraisal in Martinsburg.
The seller hired Faircloth, doing business as Pest-Plus Exterminating, to conduct a termite inspection, according to the complaint. Faircloth noted evidence of wood-destroying insects in the basement - he wrote there were "termite shelter tubes" and insect "exit holes" - but did not indicate this amounted to visible damage to the wood, according to the complaint.
An additional home inspector also did not note any damage from termites or other inspects, the complaint states.
When Mulligan and Haarberg renovated the home and tried to sell it in 2006, a termite inspector they hired found visible damage. A home inspector hired by the purchaser also found "severe wood damage" in visible locations of the basement, the complaint states.
Mulligan and Haarberg argued the damage happened before they bought they home. They told Faircloth about the discovered damage and he returned for another inspection. Faircloth inspected the home again, and still stated there was no damage, according to the complaint.
Confronted by a Realtor, Faircloth said the original owners would have needed to hire a structural engineer if he had reported the damage. Faircloth eventually inspected the home again and found damage, according to the complaint.
Mulligan and Haarberg spent $6,800 in repairs, and then sued Faircloth and the original owner of the home for the cost and legal expenses.
A January 2007 final judgment order states Faircloth must pay the two men $29,130 in legal fees and damages, plus interest.
Faircloth didn't pay, according to court documents. Mulligan and Haarberg tried several other legal means, including placing liens on property and receiving a court order to sweep some of Faircloth's bank accounts in 2010. It netted next to nothing, according to court documents.
Attorneys for Mulligan and Haarberg filed a copy of the final judgment order in Kanawha County in February, after Faircloth officially became a delegate. Berkeley County Circuit Court received a copy of the order to garnish legislative wages last week, sending a copy to Faircloth on the same day.
Attorney Andrew Skinner represented the men in their original case, and attorney Chris Hedges represents the men in the garnishment proceeding. Both said they could not comment.