KEYSER - An attorney firm representing Fernando Smith, Jamie Crabtree and the former Pristine Pre-Owned Autos Inc. has issued a notice of intent to file for damages from the West Virginia State Police.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - An attorney firm representing Fernando Smith, Jamie Crabtree and the former Pristine Pre-Owned Autos Inc. has issued a notice of intent to file for damages from the West Virginia State Police.
Lonnie C. Simmons of DiPiero Simmons, McGinley and Bastress of Charleston mailed the letter of intent July 30 to Superintendent J.L. Cahill of the West Virginia State Police, as well as West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
According to the letter, “this litigation will seek to recover all compensatory and punitive damages deemed to be proven, appropriate, and recoverable” from ongoing litigation that began with the search and seizure of property at the former Pristine Pre-Owned Autos in 2014.
The years-long court proceedings began when a customer who had purchased a 2005 Ford Freestyle from Pristine filed a complaint against the company related to a title issue and the State Police obtained a search warrant to conduct a raid on the property located at the time on Mineral Street in Keyser.
An investigation - which included complaints from other customers -  led to multiple felony charges being filed against Smith and Crabtree, and the business eventually closed down while both sides battled it out in court.
In May 2018, however, Judge Lynn Nelson dismissed the charges after declaring in February that year that all evidence that had been obtained through the search warrant was inadmissible because the warrant was “issued by a magistrate with many pertinent and known details omitted … ,” and the warrant was also “ overbroad in the scope of items to be seized.”
Smith said the case has continued to cause him and his family emotional stress and financial ruin and he wants things to be made right.
According to the letter of intent filed by his attorneys, “The fabrication of this criminal case by the officers involved violated the constitutional rights of Mr. Smith ad Ms. Crabtree, causing them to lose their income, their automobile dealers’ licenses, and the closing of their business, which was not able to function once all of the businesses’ critical documents were seized as a result of the overly-broad search.”
The attorney is asking for a settlement of an undisclosed amount, and states, “If no resolution is reached … a complaint will be filed.”
The letter gives the West Virginia State Police 30 days to reply.