Monongalia County Commission asked to move on decade-old estate

MORGANTOWN — In March of 2009, Westover businessman Arthur P. Scotchel died.

A decade later, his estate remains open.

In the 10 years since his death, a number of administrators and fiduciary commissioners have been appointed and replaced, a litany of misconduct allegations and hearings have been held, the family has been divided and the estate has been whittled away with legal fees.

During Wednesday’s Monongalia County Commission meeting, Lou Scotchel, Arthur’s nephew, asked the commission to take charge of the situation and bring it to a close.

“I’m asking you to do your diligent duty and hear this yourselves so we can come to a conclusion and move on with the rest of our lives,” Scotchel said.

The commission also heard from former state Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher, one of four administrators to take on the estate since Arthur Scotchel’s death.

Starcher took over as administrator in 2014 and wound up filing suit against his predecessor in the matter, attorney Keith Pappas. A circuit court ruling exonerating Pappas was backed by the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2017.

“This estate doesn’t aggravate you all one-one hundredth as much as it aggravates me,” Starcher told the commission. “It’s been the most miserable thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Starcher also reached out to fiduciary commissioner George Armistead and asked him to recuse himself from the case. The commission received a letter from Armistead explaining that he didn’t agree with the reasoning provided, but would respect the family’s wishes.

Starcher said the handling of the estate “makes no sense.”

“Where in the chain does somebody check to see if these things are right? Can I go down and make out a  bill for something or other and find some rich guy that died and send it over and put a claim in and have a fiduciary commissioner just say, ‘One more, one more,” Starcher said, mimicking the motion of stamping documents.

“I don’t want to have to say why I filed a motion to delay this and asked George to step aside at a very, very late date. I don’t wan to have to say it.”

The commission said it would confer with legal counsel and contact the parties within a week or so to explain how it planned to proceed.

In other county news, the commission held a public hearing before adopting FEMA-recommended changes to the county’s decade-old floodplain ordinance.

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