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Animal Health International will pay more than $52 million in forfeitures, fines, and penalties

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Animal Health International Inc. (AHI), a Colorado corporation that obtains prescription drugs for animals from manufacturers for further distribution to veterinarians, farms, feedlots, and other facilities, pleaded guilty today, through its corporate counsel, in U.S. District Court to introducing a misbranded drug into interstate commerce. Also, Patterson Companies, Inc. (Patterson) AHI’s corporate parent, entered into a non-prosecution agreement in which is committed to enhance its compliance program and fully comply with the law. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office, made the announcement today.

Pursuant to the agreements entered into by AHI and Patterson, AHI admitted to introducing and causing the introduction and delivery into interstate commerce of veterinary prescription drugs that were misbranded and agreed to pay $1 million to the Virginia Department of Health Professionals, a $5 million fine, and a forfeiture money judgment of $46,802,203. In the past 18 months, Patterson has fully cooperated in the investigation and implemented changes to AHI’s and its compliance programs to prevent further violations of federal and state law.

“Today’s conviction demonstrates that our office will not tolerate when entities or individuals illegally bypass the important safeguards that exist to protect our nation’s food sources,” First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar said today. “We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to make sure that veterinary drug distributors uphold their important obligations.”

“The FDA recognizes the importance of controlling the prescription drug supply for animals. The careless or uncontrolled distribution of prescription animal drugs poses a danger not only to the medicated animals but to the U.S. public health by increasing the risk that humans will become resistant to antibiotics that we unknowingly consume through our food supply.,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who distribute prescription animal drugs unlawfully.”

The Food and Drug Administration’s restrictions on veterinary prescription drugs are not primarily to protect animals from the potential harms of prescription drugs but are to protect the human food supply from unsafe drug residues in the edible tissues of animals sold for slaughter. Common causes of illegal residues include (1) exceeding the drug’s approved dose; (2) using a shorter withdrawal period than what is stated on the drug’s label (if a higher than approved dose is given, the labeled withdrawal period may not be enough to allow the drug in the edible tissues to deplete to levels that are at or below the tolerance); (3) using a drug in an extra-label manner (for indications and dosages outside the approved labeling) without a veterinarian’s involvement; (4) giving a drug not approved for that species; and (5) using an unapproved route of administration. Drug residues in the nation’s drug supply are concerning because: (1) they may contribute to antibiotic resistance in the human population, rendering human drugs less effective to treat human disease and contributing to the mutations of “superbugs”; and (2) they may cause allergic reactions in individuals with certain drug allergies.

According to court documents, from 2012 through 2018, AHI caused misbranded veterinary prescription drug shipments to be made throughout the United States by distributing veterinary drugs from its wholesale locations directly to end-users and by distributing veterinary drugs to unlicensed individuals.

Two such unlicensed individuals, Marlin Webb and Billy K. Groce were not properly licensed to receive, transport, store, distribute, or dispense veterinary prescription drugs. Webb was the store manager of a cooperative in Hillsville, Virginia. The cooperative was not a licensed wholesaler, pharmacy, or veterinary clinic. Groce operated an unlicensed veterinary prescription distribution business. Webb and Groce each obtained veterinary prescription drugs from AHI in interstate commerce without valid prescriptions, and on many occasions, with no prescriptions at all. Webb and Groce previously pled guilty to criminal charges for their conduct in United States District Court in Abingdon.

While, as stated in the charge to which AHI pled guilty, AHI obtained not less than $46,802,203 from its illegal shipments, its profits from such shipments were a small percentage of the amount received.

United States District Judge James P. Jones scheduled sentencing for April 28, 2020, at 2:30 p.m.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations with the assistance of the Virginia Department of Health Professions. Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer is prosecuting the case for the United States.

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The Virginia Department of Elections highlights security initiatives to ensure election integrity

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Ensuring the integrity of our elections has always been and will continue to be a top priority for election officials across the Commonwealth. Election officials across the country have been faced with targeted attacks from bad actors, both foreign and domestic, who work to undermine the public trust in our elections process.

Virginians should feel confident that their votes will be counted accurately. The Department of Elections (ELECT) has worked to remove unsecure voting systems from service at the local level and promoted the transition to modern voting systems using voter verified paper-based balloting. Furthermore, the equipment voters use to cast their ballots in Virginia are not connected to the Internet.

“The Department of Elections is aware of security concerns related to elections and voting systems,” said Christopher Piper, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. “As election officials, it is important for us to make sure that voters know their votes will be counted and their voices are heard.”

ELECT has worked with voting equipment vendors to ensure all voting systems meet new standards prior to the 2020 General Election. System vulnerability tests are constantly in process to ensure that the Department’s infrastructure is sound.

The work to protect Virginia’s elections from cybercrime is ongoing. In March 2019, Governor Northam signed Ch. 426, Acts of Assembly 2019, which requires the creation and implementation of cybersecurity standards for all jurisdictions who access the state election database. These efforts have helped Virginia to prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyber incidents targeting the integrity of its election system. Cybersecurity training courses have been made available to Virginia’s election administrators statewide. One of ELECT’s most successful training opportunities has generated participation from more than 400 of Virginia’s election officials. The program, created by the Chicago nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), is divided into three courses and covers practices like creating strong passwords, protecting accounts with two-factor authentication, identifying common types of cyber attacks faced by government offices, and effectively communicating with the public about security issues.

ELECT has developed collaborative relationships with federal, state and local election officials to share and learn from one another in support of more secure elections. The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) work with ELECT to ensure adherence to state security policies and best practices set forth by CIS, including conducting an annual security audit.

ELECT has increased its staff to include hiring additional training professionals tasked with updating and maintaining compliance materials for elections, while staff also receives ongoing security training and resources from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

“Training is a top priority at the Virginia Department of Elections,” explains Commissioner Piper. “We are proud of the fact that our training opportunities are as diverse as the partnerships we have formed. Our training varies from conducting tabletop exercises for election officials to hosting continuity of operations workgroup meetings with elections stakeholders, where we identify best practices and areas for improvement in cyber incident planning, preparedness, identification and response.”

Virginia’s 2020 Primary Election will be held March 3, and the General Election scheduled for November 3. The Department of Elections encourages voters to take the following steps to help promote election security and voter confidence:

  • Check your voter registration status to ensure that it is current and/or find your polling place. Virginia provides a secure way for Virginia voters to access their registration information through our citizen portal.
  • Always review your ballot before casting it.
  • Find information about elections by using trusted sources such as state and county agencies.
  • Learn more about the security efforts of the Virginia Department of Elections and our state and federal partners.
  • Follow the Virginia Department of Elections on Twitter @VaELECT and like us on Facebook.
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Governor Northam signs 16 bills into law

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Governor Ralph Northam signed 16 pieces of legislation into law. File photo.

~ Newly-approved measures include pro-transit planning, parole reform ~

Governor Ralph Northam today announced he signed 16 pieces of legislation into law, including bills to encourage local energy-efficient transit strategies and reform parole eligibility for certain juvenile offenders.

Transit-Oriented Development

The measures include House Bill 585, sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, which requires certain Virginia cities and counties to consider incorporating into their comprehensive plans strategies to focus development around transit, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through coordination of transportation, housing, and land use planning. Local governments use comprehensive plans to guide future development and infrastructure.

“Transit-oriented development helps create walkable, accessible communities with smaller carbon footprints,” said Governor Northam. “I am happy to sign this bill to ensure that our localities consider transit in their land-use planning.”

“Localities and cities are asked to do their part to fight climate change by considering options related to affordable housing, public transportation, and land use planning when preparing their comprehensive plans,” said Delegate Guzman. “By working together, we can drastically reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint.”

Parole Reform

Governor Northam also signed House Bill 35, sponsored by Delegate Joseph Lindsey, which reforms parole by making people eligible for parole after serving 20 years of a sentence for crimes committed as juveniles and for which they received lengthy sentences.

“Criminal justice reform includes reforming parole,” said Governor Northam. “This is about simple justice and fairness.”

The measure complements Governor’s Northam criminal justice reform package, which continues to move through the legislative process. The package funds public defenders, supports returning citizens, and further reforms parole.

“House Bill 35 is a landmark piece of legislation that gives an opportunity for youths who have committed serious crimes and repented, a future opportunity for social redemption,” said Delegate Lindsey.

Additional Measures

Governor Northam also signed the following bills:

• House Bill 94: Adoption; proper notice of proceeding to the legal custodian.

• House Bill 106: Numbering on buildings; civil penalty.

• House Bill 150: Derelict residential buildings; civil penalty.

• House Bill 278: Home/electronic incarceration program; payment to defray costs.

• House Bill 369: Furloughs from local work-release programs; furlough approved by a local sheriff.

• House Bill 370: Board of zoning appeals; dual office holding.

• House Bill 406: Local government revenues and expenditures; comparative report, filing date.

• House Bill 515: Urban county executive form of government; board of social services.

• House Bill 549: Overgrown vegetation; local authority.

• House Bill 598: Alcoholic beverage control; creates an annual mixed beverage performing arts facility license.

• House Bill 778: Family assessments; increases timeline for completion.

• House Bill 949: Alcoholic beverage control; privileges of local special events licensees.

• House Bill 1006: Human trafficking; assessments by local departments.

• House Bill 1137: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Virginia Initiative for Education and Work; hardship exception.

These measures become law on July 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted.

Until the session’s final week, the Constitution of Virginia requires the Governor to act on legislation within seven days.

The General Assembly session is scheduled to adjourn on March 8, 2020.

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Governor Northam announces Statewide 2020 Census Week of Action

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~ Activities promote participation in the upcoming census, encourage Virginians to take action in their communities ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today invited Virginians across the Commonwealth to participate in a 2020 Census week of action tomorrow through next Friday. Events throughout the week encourage Virginia residents to learn more about what’s at stake in the 2020 Census and to take action in their communities to help ensure Virginia has a complete and accurate count.


“An accurate count in the 2020 Census will support our efforts to build a Commonwealth for all Virginians and paint a more complete picture of the diverse voices that make up our state,” said Governor Northam. “I urge all Virginians to take part in the 2020 Census week of action and learn about how you can raise awareness about the upcoming census in your community.”

Virginians throughout the Commonwealth can help promote the census by taking part in the following activities.

Friday, February 21 – Sunday, February 23 | Interfaith Engagement
This weekend, faith-based organizations and communities are encouraged to share information about the 2020 Census with their parishioners by incorporating messaging into their sermons, lectures, or other teachings, and by including information in programs, bulletins, and newsletters. Faith-based organizations and communities can access the Virginia Complete Count Commission’s Interfaith Engagement Toolkit here.

Monday, February 24 | Engaging Virginia’s Seniors
Facilities and organizations that support Virginia’s seniors are encouraged to share information about the 2020 Census. Additionally, families are encouraged to create a plan of action for completing the 2020 Census with the seniors in their lives.

Older Virginians and their loved ones are also asked to mark their calendars for Wednesday, March 4 and join the 2020 Census Tele-Townhall hosted by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and AARP Virginia. From protecting themselves against census scams to letting family caregivers know how to help their loved ones, the Tele-Townhall will offer important information to help people make sure they are counted. Details about how to participate in the 2020 Census Tele-Townhall will be made available here.

Tuesday, February 25 | College Students’ “Talk About It Tuesday”
Colleges and universities are encouraged to educate students and faculty about the importance of the 2020 Census. Students are encouraged to participate in “Talk About It Tuesday” by talking to their parents and guardians to create a plan of action for completing the 2020 Census. College Students can find information on student enumeration here.

Wednesday, February 26 | Let’s “Get Social” (on Media)
Virginians can “Get Social” (on Media) by following Virginia’s Census engagement efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Virginians are also invited to participate in a Twitter chat about what’s at stake in the 2020 Census. Questions can be tweeted to @CountOnVirginia. Promote the Census using the hashtags #Census2020 #VACompleteCount #CountOnVirginia.

Pledge to be Counted
The Northam administration recently announced a partnership with CommunityConnect Labs to use mobile messaging to connect with hard-to-reach populations. On Wednesday, February 26, Virginians are encouraged to “Pledge to be Counted” by texting the word “PLEDGE” or “CENSO” (Español) to the number for their respective locality. Participants will receive a digital pledge card that can be shared on social media. Standard text messaging data rates may apply.

Valley: (540) 235-5155
Northern: (703) 684-0007 or (571) 200-0828
Coastal: (757) 210-3232
Southside: (434) 201-4884
Southwest: (276) 218-8138
Central: (804) 203-0393

“We are excited to use our new text messaging platform to reach Virginians all over the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “We know that text and other mobile messaging is one of the best ways to reach underserved populations, especially those populations that are historically hard-to-count in the census.”

Thursday, February 27 | Counting Our Youngest Virginians
It is estimated that upwards of 5 percent of children under the age of four went uncounted in the 2010 Census. On Thursday, early childhood care and education centers are encouraged to share information with parents and guardians about the 2020 Census and the importance of young children born on or before April 1, 2020 (Census Day), being counted. Information on the enumeration of children ages 0-4 can be found here.

Friday, February 28 | K-12 “Census in Schools”
Educators and school administrators are encouraged to learn about how they can incorporate the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools (SIS) program into their lessons and classroom activities. The SIS program uses census statistics to create classroom materials for grades pre-K through 12. Learn more about the SIS program here.

Additionally, Parent-Teacher Associations are encouraged to share information on the importance of the 2020 Census through newsletters and on social media—highlighting the value of programs such as Head Start, school breakfasts and lunches, and how 2020 Census data will support these efforts.

About the Virginia Complete Count Commission
On December 18, 2018, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Twenty-Seven establishing the Virginia Complete Count Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to improve participation and representation of all Virginians in the 2020 Census. The Commission facilitates the sharing of ideas and community resources regarding the 2020 Census and serves as a conduit between the Commonwealth and the United States Census Bureau.

The Virginia Complete Count Commission serves as a trusted voice and resource to educate, empower, and engage all communities for the purpose of ensuring that everyone who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia is counted in the 2020 Census.

For more information on the 2020 Census and Virginia Complete Count Commission, visit census.virginia.gov or follow @CountOnVirginia on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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CANCELLED Virginia Senior Alert Activation: Fairfax man missing

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Senior Alert: William Shaw

Cancelled Senior Alert: Subject has been located


The Virginia State Police has issued a senior alert on behalf of Fairfax Police Department on February 19, 2020, at 9:00 p.m.

The Fairfax Police Department is looking for William Shaw, a white male, 85-years-old, height: 6’1”, weight: 225 lbs., with grey eyes and grey hair. He was last seen on February 19, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. on Clara Barton Road, driving a 2008 white Toyota Sienna, VA Registration 258-2BBE. He was last seen wearing a green jacket and jeans.

The missing senior suffers from a cognitive impairment, and the disappearance poses a credible threat to his health and safety as determined by the investigating agency.

William Shaw last seen driving a 2008 white Toyota Sienna, VA Registration 258-2BBE.

Please contact the Fairfax Police Department with any information regarding his whereabouts at 1-703-691-2131, or you may find complete information at www.vasenioralert.com.

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Governor Northam announces new funding to preserve farmland

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~ $350,000 for permanent conservation easements in Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier, and Stafford counties, cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach ~

On February 19, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced $350,000 in grants from the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund to help six localities protect their farm and forest land. The grants will be used as matching funds to permanently preserve working lands through local Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs.

The grant recipients for the fiscal year 2020 are Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier, and Stafford counties, and the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. PDR programs empower localities to limit development on priority farm and forest lands and provide an incentive to landowners who want to protect their working lands by voluntarily securing a perpetual conservation easement.

“As Virginia’s largest private industry, agriculture plays a vital role in maintaining our strong economy and outstanding quality of life,” said Governor Northam. “Through this program, localities are helping us identify the working farm and forest lands that are most important to conserve for agricultural and forestry production, and working to ensure that future generations of Virginians can benefit from cleaner air and cleaner water.”

Since the program’s inception in 2008, Virginia has provided matching funds for certified local PDR programs to 23 localities, allocating $12.8 million to protect more than 14,100 acres on 105 farms. In August, Governor Northam celebrated the milestone of surpassing more than 100 conservation easements through the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund. Conservation easements supported by this program ensure that protected lands stay intact as working farms and forests in perpetuity.

“Conserving working farm and forest lands is crucial to maintaining Virginia’s economy, through the agricultural and forestry industries and agritourism,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Keeping farms in production conserves open spaces and provides economic, environmental, and social benefits to local communities and to the Commonwealth as a whole.”

Localities interested in doing more to protect their vital working farms and forestlands by creating a PDR program or implementing other best practices should contact Jen Perkins, Coordinator, Office of Farmland Preservation at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, at Jennifer.Perkins@vdacs.virginia.gov or (804) 786-1906.

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CANCELLED: Virginia Senior Alert Activation: Newport News woman missing

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Marva Keyser. Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police.

The Virginia State Police has issued a senior alert on behalf of Newport News Police Department on February 17, 2020 at 6:30 a.m.

The Newport News Police Department is looking for Marva Keyser, a black female, 77-years-old, 150 lbs., with hazel eyes and brown hair. She was last seen on February 16, 2020, at 9:30 p.m., on Wellesley Drive. She was last seen wearing a light jacket, long sleeve shirt – black and pink in color, red shorts just past the knees, and white/gray/red shoes.

The missing senior suffers from a cognitive impairment and the disappearance poses a credible threat to her health and safety as determined by the investigating agency.

Please contact the Newport News Police Department with any information regarding her whereabouts at 1-757-928-4100, option 4, or you may find complete information at www.vasenioralert.com.

The Virginia Senior Alert for Ms. Keyser of Newport News has been cancelled. The Newport News Police Department is reporting that she was safely located.

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Upcoming Events

Feb
28
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Feb 28 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Benefit @ Able Forces Foundation
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Feb 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
Feb
29
Sat
10:00 am Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit an adorable kitten. In this beginner’s class for teens and adults, you will work on a 24 peg loom to knit a small stuffed toy. *Instruction will be right handed. No prior knitting[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Nothing is more comforting than warm soup on a chilly day! Learn how to make some yummy soup, and do some taste-testing to choose your favorite. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 29.
11:00 am Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Trauma & Resiliency Training for Early Childhood Providers @ Samuels Public Library
Statistics show us that one in four children will experience trauma by the age of four. This trauma could be abuse, hunger, homelessness, witnessing violence, medical trauma, or grief. We know that a child’s greatest[...]
1:00 pm Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Feb 29 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
 
2:00 pm Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Do appearances, of people or books, influence you?  How much time does it take for you to decide that you are/are not interested? What criteria determines interest? Come spend time in a “speed dating” atmosphere,[...]
Mar
2
Mon
10:00 am Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Mar 2 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Monday, March 2nd, 2020, is National Read Across America Day. Students of all ages are invited to come to the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke’s pet adoption center, located at 111 Featherbed Lane, to[...]
Mar
3
Tue
9:00 am Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Gordmans is where big brands meet everyday low prices, with new fabulous finds every week. The apparel and home décor retailer invites area communities to its Grand Opening Brand Bash Celebration on March 3 at[...]
11:00 am Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 3 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
What do books, scarves, puppets, music and babies have in common? They are all part of Time for Baby. Join us as we use all of our senses to explore the world around us. This[...]