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County officials, EDA board members have good day in court – will it last?

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After hearing combined arguments from attorneys for 11 of 13 County municipal and Economic Development Authority defendants present on why ancient English Common Law did not create 21st Century legal grounds for criminal prosecution regarding unintentional dereliction of the oversight duty of their office, Judge Bruce D. Albertson ruled for those defendants.

Also on Monday Albertson denied a Removal Petition request that all five sitting County Supervisors be immediately removed from the conduct of their office prior to the resolution of a Show Cause Hearing on that Removal Petition filed October 18.

“For me as a judge to act now is potentially influencing the outcome of the election,” Judge Albertson observed in denying immediate removal.

However in a possible harbinger of things to come, the judge added that “there are other conceivable outcomes civil and criminally” as to a potential final resolution of this citizen-elected official dispute.

Some litigants, attorneys and reporters home away from home – the Warren County Courthouse – Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

On a motion by defense counsel for the supervisors that petition was sent to the County Registrar for verification that the required 10% of county voters in each voting district signing the petition, were in fact registered county voters. A return date of November 22 at 8:45 a.m. was set to get the result of that Registrar’s Report.

More on that initial Removal ruling later, but first to the court decision quashing the criminal charges against those county supervisors, the county administrator and past and present EDA board members.

After retiring to chambers to consider his ruling after an hour and seven minutes of legal arguments and counterarguments, 13 minutes later Judge Albertson returned to sustain the collective motions to quash the three misdemeanor indictments against all 11 defendants whose attorneys were present and participating in the arguments.

Upon that ruling, an observing co-counsel for Tom Sayre and Tony Carter, whose counsel was not present due to a scheduling conflict, both rose to ask that they or their client be included in the ruling, drawing some laughter from a packed courtroom.

“That makes sense,” Judge Albertson said, allowing the joining of the two in the judgment as had been discussed earlier were the ruling to go that way.

Tony Carter, here at Sept. 24 misdemeanor booking at RSW Jail, may be wondering if he has to pay his criminal attorney now that the charges against him have been collectively quashed in his attorney’s absence.

Albertson noted he was unable to find any evidence codifying misfeasance and nonfeasance as prosecutable misdemeanor offenses in the Commonwealth of Virginia, even under English Common Law at the base of U.S. law. He said the only related legal reference to the two charges he could find was in a 1967 civil case in England.

“What else is out there? It’s like finding a black hole by the gravity moving around it,” Albertson said, noting that the closest DCC Code that was found to bring the charges under was “solicitation”.

Solicitation of what, the court may have asked.

Acting Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton argued that while “as ill-defined as it may be, there is a legal precedent” for the charges, in arguing against the motions to quash the indictments.

Several attorneys jumped on that argument.

“ ‘As ill-defined as may’ be is repugnant to Virginia Law,” David Crump, who represented four defendants, replied to Layton’s assertion of precedent.

“ ‘As uncertain and vague as it is’ supersedes due process and fairness and is repugnant to the Virginia Constitution,” David Silek, representing former EDA Treasurer William “Billy” Biggs, added.

As Royal Examiner reported on September 8, of the three “feasance” failings of public office only malfeasance is codified as criminal by the Virginia Legislature, and that as a misdemeanor offense, though one that could lead to more serious charges.

The dividing line between malfeasance and misfeasance and nonfeasance is intent.

Malfeasance is defined as “intentional conduct that is wrongful or unlawful” while nonfeasance is defined “as a failure to act where there was a duty to act” and misfeasance is described as “conduct that is lawful but inappropriate”.

All the charges relate to the County and EDA Boards’ continued allowance of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald to operate without oversight, restrictions or direct supervisory control as a financial investigation of EDA affairs was closing in on her between September and late December 2018. McDonald resigned under mounting pressure from that Cherry Bekaert financial fraud investigation on December 20, 2018, admitting to liability for the return of $2.7 million in EDA assets. The EDA claims her liability is much higher.

While not taken between September and December 2018, this photo of Jennifer McDonald on the job as she continued to be while under increased legal and audit scrutiny in late 2018 is at the root of the Removal Petition against County Supervisors.

The misdemeanor indictments cited McDonald’s movement of around $309,000 to her own benefit during that four-month period at the end of 2018, setting the groundwork for the charges. While the EDA civil litigation is seeking return of a total of $21.3 million now, due to the one-year statute of limitations on misdemeanor charges, earlier transactions could not be included in the indictments.

Removal on hold

Helping fill Circuit Courtroom B Monday morning were a number of citizens involved in the Removal Petition filed against all five County supervisors on October 18. As noted above, they left disappointed.

Not only was their request for immediate removal of the Warren County Board of Supervisors denied, but the foundation of their petition, the criminal misdemeanor indictments against the supervisors regarding a lack of due diligent oversight of EDA operations the last four months of 2018 were quashed as not legally prosecutable by Virginia law, no matter how deep you dig back to its roots in English Common Law.

Following adjournment, Removal Petition attorney Tim Johnson said he did not believe the quashing of the criminal indictments was a major blow to the Removal initiative. While no longer under criminal indictment for a lack of supervisory oversight of EDA finances at the hands of an executive director under increased scrutiny, misfeasance and nonfeasance can be “grounds for impeachment of a high official” Johnson told the press outside the courtroom.

So involved supervisors still on the board in the wake of the November 5 Election can be held accountable for past failures, Johnson believes. As noted during the hearing two of those supervisors, Board Chairman Dan Murray and Linda Glavis are not seeking reelection. Tom Sayre is running for reelection against Walter Mabe in the Shenandoah District. And Archie Fox and Tony Carter are not up for reelection for another two years.

With the citizen petition filed with the Court, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has taken up the Removal case for the plaintiffs. Acting Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton called the citizen loss of faith in their County elected officials “an unusual circumstance in my experience”.

In arguing for the plaintiff’s request for the immediate suspension of the supervisors said he believed “the damage to the public trust is so severe” as to justify the immediate suspension of their powers to govern.

County Attorney Jason Ham and co-counsel Jim Cornwell countered that there was no basis in the facts of the citizen petition to justify such a radical suspension of the municipal government function.

Cornwell said in arguing four such cases he had never seen immediate removal authorized by the court. The only case he was familiar with where the judge did order removal, with a six page Opinion he noted, was a Norfolk City Treasurer who had been convicted on six embezzlement charges – “Here’s there’s none of that,” Cornwell argued. “There is some vague reference that ‘something may happen.’ There is no evidence, it is a feeling of some people … Why suspend on an opinion?” he asked the court.

At the request of the Commonwealth, Albertson retired to chambers to watch Royal Examiner videos of two county meetings, on October 1 and October 25, with counsel from both sides before rendering that decision. Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, Layton said he believed the videos illustrated the unusual and high level public “loss of faith in the Board of Supervisors” due to the EDA financial fraud situation.

Court adjourned at 11:20 a.m. and reconvened at 11:42 a.m. following the video viewing.

Judge Albertson observed of what had been viewed, as one video segment that “devolved into yelling” and another that had been “very respectful” in its conduct of public speakers expressing themselves.

County Attorney Ham summarized what he had seen as less than ten people expressing public dissatisfaction at the hiring of legal counsel for the supervisors at taxpayer expense. He argued against overturning the electoral will of the full voting population of the county for a vocal minority of its citizens.

Layton countered that while only 10 citizens may have spoken publicly, many more were there in support of those 10; and the citizens’ petition when verified would represent 10% of the voting population, not just 10 citizens.

However Judge Albertson denied the immediate removal request.

He called it a “drastic remedy” adding that the Removal Petition itself was a “drastic measure” itself and perhaps a “pressure valve” on public discontent.

And as noted above, he worried over a judicial action that could influence a looming legislative election just two week away and alluded to other possible legal directions this citizen-elected official dispute might take.

Criminal and non-criminal dereliction of public duty: Where might they apply in the EDA financial scandal?

Defense attorneys move to quash grand jury misdemeanor indictments

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Crime/Court

Two Dinwiddie, VA men arrested; firearms, felony assault, outstanding warrants & more

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On Sunday, June 28th at approximately 02:21 AM, Deputy C. Clatterbuck, and Deputy R. Burleson conducted a traffic stop on Fort Valley Road in the area of the Shenandoah County line. During the stop, it was found that the driver of the vehicle was wanted out of another jurisdiction.

Another vehicle arrived at the scene that was traveling with the vehicle on the traffic stop. While Clatterbuck was interacting with the second vehicle, Clatterbuck heard a series of gunshots in the woods near him. After a few minutes, Clatterbuck heard a second round of gunshots in the woods closer to him. After investigation, it was found that the gunshots came from a male occupant of the second vehicle.

Dakota M. Davis, 20, of Dinwiddie, VA. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

The male occupant, identified as Dakota M. Davis, 20, of Dinwiddie, VA, was taken into custody a short time later without incident. Davis was charged with 4.1-305 Underage Possession of Alcohol, 18.2-460 Obstruction of Justice, 18.2-56.1 Reckless Handling of a Firearm, 18.2-57 Felony Assault of LEO X2, and 18.2-388 Public Intoxication.

Michael C. Scites, 38, of Dinwiddie, VA. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

The male driver, identified as Michael C. Scites, 38, of Dinwiddie, VA, was taken into custody without incident. Scites was charged with 46.2-301 Driving Suspended/Revoked 3rd or subsequent offense, 18.2-250.1 possession of marijuana, and served with his outstanding warrants out of Henrico County.

Both Davis and Scites were held without bond and are currently at RSW Regional Jail. Warren County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Front Royal Police Department, Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office we would like to thank these agencies for their assistance.

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Virginia Beach man arrested on charge of transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure or kill U.S. Senator

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Dylan Stephen Jayne, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., was arrested yesterday on a federal criminal complaint and charged with one count of transmitting a threat via interstate commerce by leaving a voicemail message and threatening to kill a United States Senator. Photo courtesy of Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

A Virginia man, who allegedly transmitted a threat via interstate commerce to kill a United States Senator, was arrested yesterday in Virginia Beach on a federal criminal complaint. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund made the announcement today following the defendant’s initial court appearance this afternoon.

Dylan Stephen Jayne, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., was arrested yesterday on a federal criminal complaint and charged with one count of transmitting a threat via interstate commerce by leaving a voicemail message and threatening to kill a United States Senator.

According to court documents, on the morning of September 2, 2019, Jayne called the Abingdon office of United States Senator Mark Warner and threatened to kill the Senator regarding Jayne’s perceived lack of receiving Social Security payments.

The investigation of this matter is being conducted by the United States Capitol Police, and the Burlington, Vermont Police Department. The Virginia Beach Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service assisted in the apprehension of the suspect. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer R. Bockhorst is prosecuting the case for the United States.

A criminal complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.

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Two Frederick County residents charged in Bealton murder investigation

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On Sunday, June 21, the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office announced two additional arrests in the suspicious death investigation of a woman found deceased in Bealton on June 18. As previously reported, on Saturday, June 20, Melody Dawn Glascock, 54, was arrested by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office on charges of 1st Degree Murder and Obstruction of Justice, concealing evidence of a felony. Glascock was initially being held without bond in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail.

Now lead investigative agency Fauquier County has announced that two Stephens City residents have been arrested by Frederick County authorities on charges related to the Bealton murder investigation.

James Samuel Embrey III, 20, and Maria Dawn Embrey, 40, have been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder and are being held in the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

James Samuel Embrey III, 20

Maria Dawn Embrey, 40

The Fauquier Sheriff’s release states that “It is alleged that Melody Dawn Glascock conspired with both James Embrey and Maria Embrey to commit the murder of Kelly Marie Gray,” the release states.

Previously the deceased Bealton individual had only been identified as a 40-year-old woman with severe trauma to her abdomen area. The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office report on the response to Gray’s residence states, “On Thursday, June 18, 2020, deputies responded to Gray’s apartment where she was found by a family member suffering from severe trauma to the torso. The homicide investigation quickly revealed suspects.”

Melody Dawn Glascock

It was also announced that Glascock was transferred over the weekend to the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center in Warrenton, where she remains incarcerated without bond. She now faces a third charge, conspiracy to commit murder.

UPDATE: Fauquier Sheriff ties Warren murder arrest to Bealton investigation

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UPDATE: Fauquier Sheriff ties Warren murder arrest to Bealton investigation

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According to the RSW Jail website, a woman, Melody Dawn Glascock, 54, was booked into the facility at 8:34 a.m. Saturday morning, June 20, on a charge of 1st Degree Murder, non-capital, and Obstruction of Justice – the destruction of evidence of a felony. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office was listed as the arresting agency.

More on this story as information becomes available.

UPDATE:
The Fauquier Sheriff’s Office has issued a press release tying the arrest of Melody D. Glascock in Warren County to their investigation of a suspicious death in Bealton on June 18. The release also notes that Glascock is a resident of Marshall, but did not add any detail to the circumstance of her arrest in Warren County.

Marshall resident Melody Dawn Glascock was apprehended in Warren County related to a Fauquier Sheriff’s Office investigation of a suspicious death in Bealton on June 18. – Photo/RSW Jail

Below is the Saturday morning, June 20 Fauquier release, followed by their June 19 release on the Bealton investigation:

FCSO NEWS RELEASE UPDATE
June 20, 2020 11:30 a.m.

UPDATE: An arrest has been made in the Thursday night homicide in Bealeton. MELODY DAWN GLASCOCK, 54, of Marshall, has been charged by Fauquier County detectives with 1st-degree murder and obstruction of justice. Glascock was apprehended this morning in Warren County and is currently held with no bond in the RSW Regional Jail. More information will be forthcoming.

FCSO NEWS RELEASE
June 19, 2020

BEALETON HOMICIDE UNDER INVESTIGATION

Deputies responded to a suspicious death at approximately 7 p.m. on Thursday night, June 18, 2020. Upon arriving in the 6300 block of Village Center Drive deputies located a deceased female in an apartment. The 40-year-old victim was apparently found when a family member returned home.

The victim suffered severe trauma to the torso. An autopsy will be conducted at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas, VA, on Friday, June 19, 2020, to determine the exact cause and manner of death. This incident is currently under investigation as a homicide.

Further information will be provided as it becomes available. Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to contact the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office at 540-347-3300.

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Rappawan, Campbell Realty civil hearing date set; April Petty, Jesse Poe pre-trial hearing request under consideration by court

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Although neither she nor her attorney was present live or virtually for scheduled Economic Development Authority civil case hearings Thursday morning, June 18, Jennifer McDonald’s presence was apparent throughout defense motion’s hearing arguments in the cases of defendants April Petty and Jesse Poe.

Prior to those arguments a hearing date of July 30, beginning at 8:30 a.m. was set for pre-trial motions in the cases of Rappawan Inc., and principal William Vaught Jr. and Century 21, Campbell Realty Inc., and principals Walter and Jeannette Campbell. Attorneys for those defendants were among the few physically present in the older, larger Warren County Circuit Courtroom with Judge Bruce D. Albertson Thursday morning.

The Campbells were represented by Warrenton attorney Peter Hansen; Rappawan and Vaught by local real estate attorney Joseph Silek Jr., though it appeared Hansen might also have a hand in the Rappawan case. However, he said he would defer to Silek on the availability of the July 30 date for that client.

It was noted that coming motions reply dates were July 10 for a plaintiff response to defense motions, and July 24 for a defense reply to the plaintiff’s assertions in their reply.

‘They didn’t know’
In arguing for a pre-trial plea in bar hearing for his clients, April Petty and Jesse Poe – the latter not to be confused with fellow civil defendant Donald Poe – attorney William Shmidheiser III repeatedly told the court he was not disputing lead civil defendant Jennifer McDonald’s embezzlement of the amounts of money cited in real estate home purchases McDonald achieved for his clients, rather he was asserting his clients had no knowledge that that money (totaling $410,000) had been embezzled.

While not directly involved in Thursday’s EDA civil hearings, Jennifer McDonald, left with then EDA Board Chair Patty Wines, cast a long shadow over two defendants’ arguments for a pre-trial hearing chance to plead their innocence. Their arguments, who would have suspected a successful local real estate agent and Economic Development executive of criminal embezzlement? Royal Examiner File Photo/Roger Bianchini

So, Shmidheiser told Judge Albertson his clients should have the right to present their cases to him at a plea and bar hearing prior to the primary civil trial alleging a conspiracy among all 15 defendants to benefit from McDonald crimes, admitted or alleged, in an amount totaling over $21 million dollars.

The amount of embezzled money he cited involving his clients was $125,000 in Petty’s transaction and $285,000 in Jesse Poe’s. Their attorney said his clients recruited McDonald to be their real estate agent for home purchases from knowing her through family connections. Poe dated a niece of McDonald’s at the time, his attorney said; and Petty knew McDonald as the successful “golden child” of relatives she knew socially.

Shmidheiser said that if his clients could be proven to not have been involved in the larger conspiracy alleged by the plaintiff in a pre-trial plea and bar hearing, it would serve the “judicial economy” in simplifying and speeding up the primary case.

Arguing for the plaintiff EDA after being introduced to the court over phone connection by lead Sands Anderson/EDA attorney Cullen Seltzer, was Sean Hudson. Hudson countered the defense “judicial economy” argument, noting that Schmidheiser’s clients weren’t denying that embezzled funds had been used in their real estate transaction, only that they weren’t aware it was embezzled at the time of their home purchases with former EDA Executive Director McDonald acting as their real estate agent.

EDA attorney Hudson also noted that neither Petty nor Poe had offered to return the embezzled money utilized in their home purchases; adding his firm had not yet been able to depose either defendant, a conversation between plaintiff and defendants that could lead to a pre-trial settlement offer.

Defense counsel Shmidheiser countered that once involved, he had offered multiple dates for depositions of his clients but that an impasse with Sands Anderson over a location for those depositions – the law firm’s Richmond home base or Warren County where the case will be heard – had occurred.

Their attorney also noted that neither April Petty nor Jesse Poe had been indicted by the EDA Criminal Case Special Grand Jury after testifying before it, in Petty’s case at least, multiple times. That indicated the grand jury believed his clients’ stories, Schmidheiser asserted to the court.

The Warren County Courthouse is cranking back up toward a late-pandemic caseload, though still partly by remote hook up and masked, social distancing inside.

“She would like some closure. She has a lot at stake,” her attorney said, pointing to her federal emergency management job.

As the arguments concluded, Judge Albertson returned to the oft-touched topic of “fairness” and asked plaintiff counsel if he thought it “fair” that the court is allowed to at least “consider a pre-trial resolution for two or more defendants”.

After a long pause, Hansen offered that he thought keeping the defendants in the primary civil action would achieve the best chance of a pre-trial settlement, ultimately serving to streamline the case to the desired “judicial economy”.

Judge Albertson then took the arguments under advisement.

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Update: State Police add detail on Saturday night high-speed pursuit

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In a press release issued Wednesday, June 17, shortly before 3 p.m. the Culpeper Office of the Virginia State Police added detail to the circumstance of the high speed chase through three counties the previous Saturday evening. As reported in Royal Examiner, that chase and apprehension led to multiple charges, criminal and traffic, against 33-year-old Bryan Douglas Walters of Luray.

Walters is currently being held without bond in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County (RSW) Regional Jail.

Bryan D. Walters – Photo/RSW Jail

The full text of the VSP release, which varies slightly on information gathered from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office on Front Royal Police involvement, is presented below:

“A Luray, Va. man is behind bars on multiple charges in two counties after he fled law enforcement Saturday (June 13, 2020). Virginia State Police have charged Bryan D. Walters, 33, in Warren County with two felony counts of assault on law enforcement, one felony count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and one misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. In Frederick County, state police have charged Walters with one felony count of eluding law enforcement, and one count of driving while revoked.

“The pursuit Saturday was initiated by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. As it continued north on Route 11 entering Frederick County at approximately 8:29 p.m., state police took over the pursuit and continued behind the fleeing 2012 Jeep Patriot, until it finally crashed into the median on I-66 at the 2.8-mile marker in Warren County. The driver, Walters, was taken into custody without further incident. Walters was transported to RSW Regional Jail and held without bond.

“During the course of the pursuit Walters struck two state police cruisers. One of the state police troopers suffered minor injuries in that crash.

“The pursuit reached speeds of up to 100 mph.

“Please contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for details on why/how the pursuit was initiated and their charges.”

Luray man held without bond following lengthy high-speed chase

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