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Inmate prefers jail to vagrancy

By Staff | Apr 24, 2009

Philip P. Meadors

Circuit Court Judge David Sanders was moments away from releasing Philip P. Meadors on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond Monday when Meadors decided he wants to remain in jail.

Without his RV camper and carpenter’s tools – which were seized and impounded by police when Meadors, 57, was arrested Jan. 4, 2008 – he cannot make a living, he told Sanders.

And Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brandy Sims objected to Meadors request to reside in his RV parked near a house at 214 N. Princess St.

“The residence belongs to Mrs. (Dawn) Beaumont, and she is the victim in this case,” Sims told the judge. Meadors stands accused of embezzling Beaumont’s funds through misuse of power of attorney, court records show. He has remained in Eastern Regional Jail for 15 months.

But Meadors counters he was Beaumont’s caregiver. She has since been relocated to an area nursing home. She was 88 at the time of Meadors’ arrest by Shepherdstown Police.

Meadors was not indicted until Jan. 23, 2009, by a grand jury in the Circuit Court for “embezzlement by misuse of power of attorney.” According to the indictment, Meadors from Aug. 10, 2007, through Jan. 4, 2008 “did … with the intent to defraud, unlawfully and feloniously embezzle and convert to his own use, the assets or property with which he was entrusted as power of attorney for Dawn E. Beaumont …”

A trial date is set for June 16.

On Monday, one of Meadors’ friends, Lillian Herz, was prepared to co-sign on the $10,000 bond – reduced by Sanders from the $100,000 cash surety bond – and Meadors was not required to produce any cash to go free. But with no RV, and no clear plan for where he would live, Meadors backed out.

“This all seems too complicated,” Meadors told Sanders. “I’d rather stay in jail. If I were to be released, I’d be a vagrant … I’d just rather stay in jail until I can prove my innocence in court.”

Sims said in order to support the personal recognizance bond, she would need to have a “definable address” where Meadors could be located.

“I would like to have a clear address, other than an RV, which could be moved around …” Sims told Sanders. Sims also said there are additional counts of embezzlement that may be filed in Berkeley County for transactions Meadors allegedly made there using Beaumont’s funds.

She reminded the judge that the Prosecutor’s Office had extended a plea agreement deal to Meadors that would have ended the criminal proceedings against him, and prevented a jury trial. If Meadors had pleaded “no-contest” to the embezzlement charge, he could have been released.

“It appears we are not going to have any success with that,” Sims said.