KEYSER - Following up on his notice of intent to file for damages from the West Virginia State Police, former Pristine Pre-Owned Autos owner Fernando Smith has filed a complaint against WVSP Trooper Michael Travelpiece and is requesting a jury trial in Mineral County Circuit Court.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Following up on his notice of intent to file for damages from the West Virginia State Police, former Pristine Pre-Owned Autos owner Fernando Smith has filed a complaint against WVSP Trooper Michael Travelpiece and is requesting a jury trial in Mineral County Circuit Court.
Listed as co-plaintiffs on the complaint are Jamie Crabtree, also former co-owner, and Pristine Pre-Owned Autos Inc.
The complaint, filed by Lonnie C. Simmons of Charleston attorney firm Dipiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, and Dan James of the local James Law Firm, asks for damages to cover “lost wages, lost profits, mental and emotional pain and suffering, loss of reputation, annoyance and inconvenience, humiliation and embarrassment, and all other categories of compensatory damages proven under the facts.”
The suit comes as a result of a years-long series of court proceedings which began when a customer who had purchased a 2005 Ford Freestyle from Pristine filed a complaint against the company in 2014 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 purported to include 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.“
It was also noted that the other “several additional victims” were actually only two people and that their claims were either without merit or not properly investigated.
In the complaint, Smith and Crabtree are not only asking for compensatory damages, but also seek to have attorney’s fees and “whatever equitable relief the court deems appropriate, such as requiring the defendant to undergo additional training and education addressing the issues raised.”
The public information officer for the West Virginia State Police could not be reached for comment.