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Subject: Former West Virginia Governor William Wallace Barron

Charlotte, North Carolina
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Date Posted: November 14, 2002 11:26:35 EDT

William Wallace Barron, a former West Virginia governor and state attorney general who pleaded guilty to bribing a federal juror in 1971, died Tuesday at Carolinas Medical Center. He was 90.

The Randolph County, W.Va., native was elected attorney general in 1956 and was 49 when he was elected the state's 26th governor in 1960. He served from 1961 to 1965, a time when the West Virginia Constitution limited governors to a single four-year term.

Barron, the son of an Elkins, W.Va., Presbyterian minister, pleaded guilty in 1971 to paying a $25,000 bribe to a federal jury foreman during his 1968 trial on corruption charges. Barron was acquitted of the charges, which stemmed from an investigation into his administration's bribes-for-contracts scheme.

Barron also was indicted in 1970 on state charges involving activities on behalf of a law client after he left office. He was among 32 individuals and 11 companies indicted by a Kanawha County, W.Va., grand jury.

West Virginia Supreme Court decisions later that year nullified the use of the state's bribery law in most of the cases. As a result, most of the state indictments, including the one against Barron, were dismissed.

Barron served three years and four months of a 12-year sentence on the bribery conviction at the federal minimum-security prison at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Barron's public career also included serving as the mayor of Elkins, a two-term member of the House of Delegates and chairman of the state Liquor Control Commission from 1953 to 1955.

Survivors include, his wife, Opal Wilcox Barron; daughters, Mary Penn, Nancy Smith (Ronald), and Jane Anderson; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Heritage Funeral Home, Matthews/Weddington Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.

A spokesman at the funeral home said all arrangements and burial will be private.

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