Official: Brunner Lied About Trooper Tape
Associated Press Writer



CHARLESTON - A state official lied when he accused a fraternal organization of using a slain trooper's name to raise funds, the group's local chief said Thursday.

Bob Brunner, a spokesman for Gov. Gaston Caperton, in April said telephone solicitors for the state branch of the American Association of Troopers used Trooper Larry Hacker's name in seeking donations.

State Police 1st Sgt. Robert D. Estepp, president of the chapter, said a tape and transcript of the call to Brunner's home cast doubt on
Brunner's allegations.

"This guy's supposed to be one of the pillars of the community here. Why would he say things that didn't happen? What's behind it?" Estepp said.

Hacker was shot to death in Ritchie County last month while investigating a domestic dispute.

The caller told of the association helping Hacker's widow and said contributions could help families of other fallen officers, Brunner said.

Brunner said a supervisor even called back moments later to apologize after Brunner questioned the caller.


"This guy's supposed to be one of the pillars of the community here. Why would he say things that didn't happen? What's behind it?"

Sgt. Robert D. Estepp
President of W.Va. branch
Of the American Association of Troopers

"What possible motivation would I have to lie? It's so absurd."

Bob Brunner
Spokesman for Gov. Gaston Caperton


Brunner said he complained to the secretary of state's office the next day.

"What possible motivation would I have to lie? It's so absurd," Brunner said.

Brunner, who leaves his post in the Caperton administration next week, said he did not complain in his official capacity. He said several other citizens reported similar pitches involving Hacker's name.

"I am talking to you as citizen Bob Brunner. This was the day of (Hacker's) funeral, the newscast
ends, the telephone rings and here's a guy making this pitch," Brunner said.

Estepp said that in a transcript of the call, solicitor Greg Anderson identifies himself as representing "West Virginia State Troopers Lodge 8."

"West Virginia State Troopers don't have a lodge, they have a troopers association," Brunner is quoted as saying.

Anderson responded, "We have a Troopers Lodge 8 sir, ah..."

"1 don't know who we are but I
am a member of that force and I don't recognize any Lodge 8," Brunner reportedly said.

Estepp said he was angered Brunner purported to be a trooper, but Brunner said he merely identified himself as "a member of state government."

Brunner challenged the legitimacy of the transcript

"I question the motives and I question the whole process. of somebody coming forward with what purports to be a tape and a transcript five weeks after the fact," Brunner said.

"Having been in the electronic media myself, I know you can edit tape and make something sound the way you want it to sound," said Brunner, a former anchorman for WSAZ-TV in Charleston.

In the transcript, neither party mentions Hacker's death.

Col. Thom Kirk, the state police superintendent, was unavailable for comment until Friday night, a man who answered the phone at his home said Thursday night.

Anderson was fired but rehired after the tape of the call was reviewed, Estepp said.

Calls to Hutto's Florida office went unanswered late Thursday.