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Attorney General hires former assistant prosecutor Maryclaire Akers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maryclaire Akers, fired assistant Kanawha County prosecutor and current general counsel for the West Virginia Ethics Commission, has accepted an offer to work for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Akers starts Aug. 12 as an assistant Attorney General with the Consumer Protection Division, according to a statement from Morrisey's office.

"We are pleased to have someone of Ms. Akers' caliber joining our team," Morrisey said in a news release.

"She is a well-respected attorney in the Kanawha Valley, and she will bring years of prosecutorial experience to the division and the office's working group tasked with looking at the drug abuse epidemic plaguing our state."

Akers worked in the Kanawha County prosecutor's office from 1999 until Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants fired her in February. The move surprised many in the law enforcement community; Plants declined to say why she was fired.

In February, Akers said Plants had told her she was an "A-plus prosecutor" and she could expect a raise if she stayed with the office. She told the Daily Mail at the time she turned down a job offer and was fired two weeks later. 

She served as chief of staff for a time, but also worked as a special assistant U.S. Attorney.

"I am excited by the opportunity to use my prosecutorial experience to assist in the Attorney General's prescription drug fight, as well as to aid consumers that have been wronged by scams and other unscrupulous individuals and businesses," Akers said in the news release.

Morrisey plans to utilize that experience in two different ways. In addition to her consumer protection duties, she'll also help an "existing working group" within the office that is looking into prescription pill abuse problems throughout the state.

Thursday afternoon Akers said she enjoyed her time at the commission. She said she took the job with the Attorney General because her job as a prosecutor gave her a first-hand look at the problems caused by drug abuse.

She said she is excited to find new and creative ways for the Office of the Attorney General to address the problem.

The attorney general has taken some heat for changes made within the consumer protection division and his approach to combating drug abuse. Morrisey stopped the office's consumer advocate program in January and is still evaluating what to do with it, according to a June article in the Charleston Gazette.

But members of Morrisey's staff deny they stopped the program, stressing they are still committed to consumer protection.

"The Attorney General's Office maintains a vigorous consumer protection advocacy outreach and compliance program and are making changes to better educate citizens and companies on the complexities of the law," Morrisey spokeswoman Beth Ryan said in an email.

"We will continue to demonstrate that over the course of the next few months and years."

Morrisey has also not publicly responded to a letter sent by Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, asking for him to investigate a connection between sales of pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine labs.

Pseudeophedrine is an ingredient in many over-the-counter allergy medicines also frequently used to make meth.

It's office policy not to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation, Ryan said.  Akers joined the Ethics Commission as its general counsel in March. She was on the commission's agenda Thursday, asking for an employment exemption request.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

 


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