KEYSER - The four-year-long multi-count felony case involving former Pristine Pre-Owned Autos owners Fernando Smith and Jamie Crabtree has been dismissed in Mineral County Circuit Court.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstirbune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The four-year-long multi-count felony case involving former Pristine Pre-Owned Autos owners Fernando Smith and Jamie Crabtree has been dismissed in Mineral County Circuit Court.
Dismissal came last week following a ruling by Judge Lynn Nelson in February that all evidence that had been obtained through execution of a search warrant on the Pristine property in 2015 was inadmissible in any further court proceedings.
Smith and Crabtree had been indicted on 29 counts each of false pretenses and conspiracy in 2015, following an investigation by West Virginia State Police into claims of illegal actions regarding the titling of vehicles.
The investigation began in 2014 in response to a complaint filed by a customer who had purchased a 2005 Ford Freestyle which she said had been wrecked and totaled but resold to her by Pristine.
During the investigation, the West Virginia State Police obtained a warrant from then-Magistrate Sue Roby and conducted a raid on the Pristine lot on Mineral Street in Keyser, where they confiscated a large amount of records, computers and more, including the 2005 Ford Freestyle.
Smith filed a lawsuit against the State Police later that year, claiming the warrant was illegally obtained and a large portion of the property that was confiscated did not pertain to the lawsuit. He said loss of the records, computers and other items had rendered it impossible for him to continue in business.
At that time, Judge Lynn Nelson determined that the warrant had been legally obtained, but ordered the State Police to return any property that did not pertain to the case.
Since that ruling, however, Smith was able to present the investigating office with paperwork including an application for a secondary lien on the vehicle and a bill of sale that indicated the vehicle was, indeed, a reconstructed vehicle with a salvage title.
In addition, the investigating officer was able to discover some paperwork which discredited two other complainants who had come forth during the investigation, but whose claims he had used as part of the basis for his request for the warrant.
Based on the new evidence, Judge Nelson overturned his ruling on Feb. 2, 2018, saying that the “search warrant was void for two reasons. First, the warrant was issued by the Magistrate with many pertinent and known details omitted by the affiant, and second, the search warrant was overbroad in the scope of items to be seized.”
With the lack of evidence in the case, Smith and Crabtree’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Prosecuting attorney Cody Pancake said there was no choice but dismissal with a total lack of evidence.
Smith said the case has caused him and his family emotional stress and financial ruin.
At its height, Pristine Pre-Owned Autos had grown to include three locations, which closed in 2015.