Charleston Mayor Danny Jones held a press conference Tuesday morning about a high-profile lobbyist who was arrested during a prostitution sting.
The Charleston Police Department conducted the sting July 11, 2013, using undercover officers.
Sgt. Bobby Eggleton sent a press release to the media the next day, listing five people arrested that night. Jones said Eggleton omitted the name of Phil Reale, a lobbyist who was also the chief of staff for former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton.
The clients listed on Reale's website include the West Virginia Press Association, the West Virginia Beer Wholesalers' Association, and the West Virginia Kennel Owners Association.
According to the mayor, Reale was driving on Charleston's West Side when he stopped to talk to a woman on the street on his way to a South Hills country club. Reale was arrested for soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor.
Jones later said Reale was "in denial," claiming Reale had stated during an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail he wasn't trying to solicit the prostitute.
"Everyone should be treated the same," Jones said. "Including Phil Reale or me or Zach Jones or anybody."
The city dismissed the charge against Reale without prejudice in August. That means it can be re-filed. The mayor announced Tuesday he hopes the charge is re-filed by city attorney Paul Ellis. He said no action will be taken against CPD or Sgt. Eggleton.
"Perhaps he was showing compassion to somebody else," Jones said. "Leaving that name off that press release was a real mistake. It shouldn't have been done."
Jones said he'd react differently if another officer hypothetically omitted the name.
"Bobby Eggleton, he's not only one of my favorite people on the police department, I think he's one of the best police officers there," Jones said. "He's a great police officer."
Chief Brent Webster with the Charleston Police Department said he is handling the issue internally.
"There have been discussions with Sgt. Eggleton, and we will continue to have discussions," said Webster in a phone interview Tuesday. "It won't go unanswered, it won't go unchecked."
Webster said he's looking into the idea of a full-time public information officer within the department.
"We'll look at this as an opportunity to grow from it," Webster said.
The lobbyist's spokesperson, George Manahan, stressed the fact Reale's misdemeanor charge was dismissed in August. The city did the same for two other men, according to Manahan.
"Phil did not ask for, nor did he receive special treatment from the city attorney," Manahan said. "We are disappointed the city seems to be interested in re-filing charges that were dismissed back in August."
Eggleton declined to comment at this time.