Slack resigned from the sheriff's department and took a job as Clay police chief. He ran in the 2012 election and handily defeated his two opponents for the Democratic nomination, receiving 78 percent. He ran unopposed in the election and took office on Jan. 1.
Clay County Commission President Mike Pierson was shocked to hear of the federal charge.
"I about fell into the floor," Pierson said of learning of the investigation. "I just could not believe it."
Pierson was attending a conference in Lewis County. While he had heard the prosecution was moving forward, he hadn't heard a charge had been filed.
"It's a sad thing for us," Pierson said. "He's easy to work with. He just messed up."
He thought the charge was too stiff and wished they had charged him with a misdemeanor.
Pierson, a former schoolteacher, has known Slack most of his life and always liked him. Slack was one of his students at Clay High School.
He said Slack was well liked among commissioners, especially after dealing with Holcomb. The former sheriff was hard to work with, Pierson said.
"It's a personal thing - we like Miles," Pierson said. "I think it's because we've gone through the Holcomb administration. Miles seemed more concerned about the welfare of the county.
"The commission had high hopes. We're hurting. We lost a lot of revenue when the coal mine shut down."
He said the regional jail bill runs $32,000 to $38,000 a month and among Slack's goals was to bring on a home confinement officer and expand nighttime patrols. He said one of the first things Slack did when he took office was to hire a home confinement officer.
Pierson said Slack has not resigned, but it was his understanding that Slack didn't have to do so until he made a plea in court.
"When he does resign, if and when, we will put somebody in his place out of his office," Pierson said, pointing out that payroll checks from the department still would need to be signed. "We have some people that are interested, but we haven't decided who it will be and won't make that decision until then."
The Legislature amended the law regarding appointments to elected positions this year and those changes went into effect last month. The commission will appoint someone immediately if Slack resigns.
They will then have 30 days from the time of resignation to select a new sheriff to serve out the rest of the unexpired term. The position will be up for a vote in the primary and general elections in May and November 2014.
Assistant U.S. attorneys Haley Bunn and Steve Ruby are handling prosecution.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.