Story by Chris Lawrence, MetroNews

MOOREFIELD, W.Va. — The former president of the now defunct Allegheny Wood Products has been hit with criminal charges in Hardy County Magistrate Court over failed payment to a pair of independent loggers.

A criminal complaint, filed March 25 by Hardy County Sheriff Steve Dawson, charged John W. Crites Jr. with two felony counts of obtaining goods by means of false pretense.

Court documents indicated loggers Mark Rexrode and Victoria Dyer each delivered loads of logs to the Allegheny Wood Products yard near Moorefield. The checks used to pay both individuals bounced because the account with United Bank had been frozen.

The sheriff wrote he consulted with employees in the company’s business office who told him the accounts were frozen without warning after the checks were issued. Rexrode is still owed $26,182.70 and Dyer is owed $10,858.89, according to documentation filed with the court. Dawson explained in the complaint he received a detailed accounting from both Dyer and Rexrode of their timber deliveries to the AWP log yard.

Dawson further wrote in the criminal complaint he visited the log yard at Moorefield March 5 to see what logs were on the property. When he arrived he observed tractor trailers hauling logs away from the property and machinery actively loading additional trucks with logs on the ground.

“From what this officer observed it is clear this company is liquidating the logs they had at the yard, which includes what they had not payed for,” wrote the sheriff in his court filing.

Sheriff Dawson said at that time spoke to a log purchaser for AWP who indicated the company kept detailed records in their computer of all logs bought, who they bought them from, and the prices. He further indicated in the past weekend there had been a large log sale at the Hardy County yard. However, the purchaser advised the sheriff he had no access to any of the records because his employment with AWP had been terminated with the shutdown of the operation.

Sheriff Dawson indicated he learned through the Secretary of State’s office John W. Crites and John W. Crites II were directors of AWP. Crites II was also identified as incorporator and president of the company.

Dawson wrote in the criminal complaint he spoke with John Crites II and another company official identified as Christopher Deweese about the failed payment for log deliveries and their apparent resale.

“At the time Mr. Crites and Mr. Deweese maintained the position that the company was in Receivership since March 6, 2024 by order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. It was Mr. Crites’ and Mr. Deweese’s position the logs and all property of Allegheny Wood Products was considered as collateral of United Bank and could legally be sold,” Dawson wrote in the criminal complaint.

Crites’ attorney Isaac Sponaugle issued the following statement about the case to MetroNews:

“While I cannot go into great detail about an ongoing case, I can say that these charges came as a complete surprise. The bank forced Allegheny Wood Products to shut down. The bank declared a default and froze its operating accounts. For valid reasons, people are angry. Yet, a company not paying bills after a bank seizes its money doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal case. This is a civil matter. Creditors are trying to use the criminal justice system to skip line in the federal civil action. The criminal charges should be dismissed,” Sponaugle said.