What might the mayor of Front Royal and the owner of the New England Patriots have in common? If you said criminal scrutiny involving massage parlors, you would be correct.
Court documents filed online Friday, April 12, 2019 indicate that Front Royal Mayor Hollis Tharpe is poised to be indicted for “solicitation of prostitution” by a Warren County grand jury on Monday, April 15.
The date of the alleged offense – case number CR19-000-290-00 – is May 31, 2018, and involves a visit to a local massage parlor.
Asked about the charge Saturday evening, April 13, Tharpe said, “It’s embarrassing – but it’s a baseless charge.”
Tharpe declined further comment pending conversations with an attorney. However, he said he did not foresee the charge impacting his service as mayor of Front Royal in the immediate future – “I am an elected official,” he pointed out.
When queried about a criminal investigation aimed his way revealed when Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden recused himself on August 30, 2018, from involvement in any potential prosecution of the Front Royal mayor, Tharpe expressed confusion.
“I can’t find anything out – no one has called; no one has threatened to take me to court. If someone would pick up the phone and call me, I could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – but I guess the system doesn’t work that way,” Tharpe lamented of the informational vacuum he was operating in.
“It’s just baffling – I’m absolutely clueless. I don’t do murder; I don’t write bad checks; I haven’t had any dealing with the EDA and Jennifer McDonald – I don’t have any loans with the EDA; I don’t shoplift; and I don’t do, I don’t mess with drugs – we know people who have lost kids to addiction,” Tharpe continued as he tried to fathom the nature of any potential criminal investigation into his behavior.
As of Friday, April 12, Tharpe now knows the nature of the charge against him – a charge he asserts is “baseless”. Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Marc Abrams was appointed by the court to replace Madden on the prosecutorial side were charges filed from the investigation into Front Royal’s mayor.
Four members of cocaine trafficking organization arrested following investigation
Four members of a cocaine trafficking organization were arrested on Thursday, April 15, 2021, following a yearlong investigation by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force. Last April, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force identified members of a cocaine trafficking organization operating in Winchester and Frederick County, VA. Through the course of the investigation, task force officers completed numerous controlled purchases of cocaine from multiple suspects within the organization. As a result, approximately 203 grams of cocaine with a street value of $9,100.00 was seized by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force over the last year. On April, 15, 2021, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force obtained and executed search warrants at four of the suspect’s residences located in Winchester and Frederick County, VA. Approximately 308 grams of cocaine with a street value of $14,300.00, 29 grams of methamphetamine with a street value of $1,300.00, 9 firearms, and $5,578.00 in currency was seized from the suspect’s residences.
Samuel Resendiz Hernandez, 24, of Winchester, VA, was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to distribute a schedule I/II controlled substance, two counts of distribution of a schedule I/ll controlled substance, and conspiracy.
Norberto Bautista Robles, 25, of Winchester, VA, was arrested and charged with two counts of distribution of a schedule I/ll controlled substance, two counts of possession of a schedule I/ll controlled substance, possession of a firearm while in possession of a schedule I/ll controlled substance, and possession of a firearm by a person wo is not a citizen of the United States.
Charles Arthur Perkins, Jr, 68, of Winchester, VA, was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to distribute a schedule I/ll controlled substance, possession of a firearm while in possession of a schedule I/ll controlled substance, and conspiracy.
Rafael Velazquez-Bautista, 25, of Winchester, VA, was arrested and charged with distribution of a schedule I/ll controlled substance.
Additional charges against the suspects and other co-conspirators are forthcoming. The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force was assisted by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Winchester Police Department, Virginia State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during Thursday’s operation.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from Clarke, Frederick, Page and Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Departments, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester Police Departments and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office. The Northwest Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force is a HIDTA funded initiative.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office launches new enforcement blitz against speeding
Warren County Sheriff’s Office today launched a tough new speed enforcement blitz for the County of Warren and Town of Front Royal under the tagline: “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.” The intensified enforcement effort against speeding drivers underscores the severity of the problem, both locally and across the nation.
“Speeding translates to death on our roadways. It greatly reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around another vehicle, a hazardous object, or an unexpected curve. Speeding drivers put themselves, their passengers and other drivers at tremendous risk,” said Lieutenant Steve Collins.
In 2015, speeding was a contributing factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. and more than 9,500 lives were lost in such crashes, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“During the “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” blitz, deputies will intensify enforcement of posted speed limits in Warren County and Town of Front Royal. We’ll stop and ticket anyone caught speeding—especially on John Marshall Highway, Remount Road, Winchester Road and Stonewall Jackson Highway, where most of our speed-related crashes occur,” said Lieutenant Steve Collins.
Fully 17 percent of all speeding-related traffic fatalities occurred on local roads — where the posted speed limits were 55 miles per hour or under. According to NHTSA, a crash on a road with a speed limit of 65 mph or greater is more than twice as likely to result in a fatality than a crash on a road with a speed limit of 45 or 50 mph and nearly five times as likely as a crash on a road with a speed limit of 40 mph or below. About 15 percent of the country’s speeding-related fatalities occur on interstate highways each year.
A NHTSA research report, “Analysis of Speeding-Related Fatal Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes,” shows that a major proportion of fatal, speeding-related single-vehicle crashes occur on rural roadways.
Across America in 2015, speeding was a factor in 17 percent of all fatal crashes on dry roads, and in 21 percent of those occurring on wet roads.
“Driving above the posted speed limit or speeding in bad weather conditions dramatically increases the probability that a motorist will be involved in a crash,” said Lieutenant Steve Collins.
“During this enforcement blitz, deputies will be out targeting and ticketing speeding drivers,” said Lieutenant Steve Collins. “Our goal is to save lives, and we’re putting all drivers on alert – the posted speed limit IS THE LAW. No more warnings and no more excuses. When it comes to speeding: Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.”
NHTSA considers a crash speeding-related if the driver was charged with exceeding the posted speed limit or if the driver was driving too fast for conditions at the time.
For more information, please visit trafficsafetymarketing.gov.
Methamphetamine trafficker arrested after multi-jurisdictional investigation
On April 9, Christopher Shane Gonder, 33, of Waynesboro, PA, was arrested following a multi-jurisdictional investigation in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. The arrest was the result of an ongoing investigation involving the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, Maryland’s Washington County Narcotics Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration Hagerstown Resident Office. In December of last year, members of the Northwest Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force identified Christopher Shane Gonder and other members of a methamphetamine trafficking organization operating in the Winchester, Frederick County, Warren County, and Front Royal areas.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force identified Gonder as a leader within the organization and knew Gonder and other members would routinely travel between Virginia and Maryland selling and distributing large quantities of methamphetamine. During the investigation, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force completed multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Gonder in Frederick and Warren Counties. Approximately ½ pound of methamphetamine with a street value of $6,000.00 was purchased from Gonder between December and March.
On April 9, members of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force arranged to purchase a ½ pound of methamphetamine from Christopher Gonder. When Gonder arrived at the prearranged location, members of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office attempted to arrest Gonder. Gonder fled the scene driving an Infiniti G35 coupe. Gonder’s vehicle was pursued from Warren County into Shenandoah County. Gonder’s vehicle became disabled on Back Road near Toms Brook. Gonder was taken into custody by deputies with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Task Force Officers.
Following his arrest, members of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force obtained and executed a search warrant on Gonder’s vehicle. After a search, approximately ½ pound of Methamphetamine with a street value of $6,000.00, 16 fluid ounces of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) with a street value of $3,000.00, 5 grams of fentanyl with a street value of $500.00, and $3,500.00 in US Currency was seized. GHB is a powerful depressant that affects the central nervous system. GHB is commonly referred to as a “date rape drug” on the street. In addition, members of Maryland’s Washington County Narcotics Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration Hagerstown Resident Office executed a search warrant on a storage unit being rented by Gonder in Maryland. Approximately ½ pound of methamphetamine with a street value of $6,000.00, and $10,000.00 US Currency was seized.
Gonder was charged with three counts of distribution of a schedule I/II controlled substance, two counts of transporting more than one ounce of a schedule I/ll controlled substance into the Commonwealth with the intent to sell or distribute, and possession of a firearm while in possession of a schedule I/II controlled substance. Additional charges against Gonder and co-conspirators are forthcoming. The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force was assisted by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, Front Royal Police Department, and Strasburg Police Department.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from Clarke, Frederick, Page, and Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Departments, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester Police Departments and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.
Purcellville man arrested for discharging firearm on Frederick County traffic stop
A Purcellville man was arrested today after the firearm he was handling, during a traffic stop, was fired while a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputy was approaching his driver’s window.
At 10:05 am, Deputy A. Cilento observed a grey VW passenger car, with no registration displayed, in the 600 block of Front Royal Pike. Deputy Cilento initiated a traffic stop and the vehicle pulled off Rt 522 and onto Front Drive. As Cilento exited his cruiser, and approached the suspect vehicle, he observed three small children in the backseat before hearing the distinct sound of a weapon being fired. Deputy Cilento immediately notified dispatchers that the subject had just “discharged a firearm” and requested additional units.
Deputy Cilento drew his service weapon and gave the driver verbal commands as the suspect dropped the gun onto the floorboard. With additional units arriving on scene, the suspect was removed from the vehicle and detained. Units began checking the wellbeing of the three children and one adult passenger. Luckily, no one was struck by the round which exited out the bottom of the suspect’s vehicle, past Deputy Cilento, and coming to rest beside the left front tire of his sheriff’s office cruiser.
The suspect was identified as Daniel Zachary Cook of Purcellville. Cook made statements to investigating deputies indicating that he removed the weapon from his center console because he “seen what cops do to white and black people with guns”. As far as firing the weapon, Cook stated he was attempting to hide it when it went off. Cook’s passenger, Douglas Burke of Winchester, is the father to the three children present who range from ages 2 – 7. Burke stated he asked Cook what he was doing when he removed the gun from the console and, when Cook made the statement about what cops do, Burke demanded that Cook put the gun away.
It remains unclear why Cook would remove the weapon from the locked console in the first place if his intent were to simply hide it. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both thankful and extremely concerned with today’s event. “Can you imagine if one of those small children would’ve been hit by this stray bullet on its way out of that vehicle?” Sheriff Millholland said before adding, “I truly believe this individual had it in his mind to harm my deputy when he pulled that gun out of that console after being pulled over. It is sad how the men and women of law enforcement are being perceived and treated these days.”
Cook was taken to the regional adult detention facility where numerous warrants, to include reckless discharge of a firearm, brandishing and carrying a concealed weapon, were obtained and served. Charges for the reckless endangerment of the three children were sought but denied by the Magistrate on duty who held Cook without bail.
Church Street shooting incident results in charges against local woman
The woman who appeared at a June 2020 Front Royal Town Council meeting with props to publicly criticize then-Mayor Eugene Tewalt and then Town Councilman Chris Holloway’s 2020 mayoral campaign opponent and Royal Examiner Publisher Mike McCool for participating in or filming a ribbon-cutting at the Virginia Beer Museum to celebrate reopening from eased COVID pandemic restrictions the day before a bikini motorcycle wash event, was arrested Monday, March 29 on firearms charges.|
Alisa Nichole Carson, 41, is charged with “reckless handling of a firearm” and “unlawful discharge of a firearm, missile in, at occupied building”. She was booked into RSW Regional Jail at 11:58 p.m. Monday night and released the following morning at 8:38 a.m. on a $5,000 unsecured bond. She has a hearing date in Warren County General District Court scheduled for May 4, on the 10 a.m. docket.
A check at the General District Court Clerk’s Office offered no other detail on the circumstance or address at which the incident occurred, other than that the Front Royal Police was the arresting agency. A subsequent check with FRPD provided an address of 17 Church Street as the site of the incident, which may have evolved from a domestic situation.
Prior to her June 2020 Public Comments appearance before the town council, Carson had been seen at Warren County Republican Committee meetings, occasionally seated next to now Mayor Holloway. Friday, committee officials verified her past membership and a district committee chairmanship they believed is still active.
Her June 2020 public criticism of the moral values of Beer Museum proprietor David Downes for hosting a ‘Bikini Bike Wash’ and sideswipes at Tewalt and McCool for their presence at the Virginia Beer Museum ribbon cutting was interpreted by some observers as, at least in part, a not-too-subtle promotion of then-Councilman Holloway’s Republican Committee-endorsed campaign for mayor.
Not ‘our’ Chris Holloway drunk and disorderly in Shenandoah County
Wednesday and Thursday, March 31 and April 1, Royal Examiner was contacted by multiple readers inquiring about a rumor, or forwarding “news” to us, that Front Royal Mayor Chris Holloway had been arrested in Shenandoah County Wednesday, March 31, on drunk and disorderly charges.
A quick check of the RSW Regional Jail website’s Inmate Locator function indicated that a Chris Holloway had, indeed, been booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail on March 31, after 11:34 a.m. Drunk in Public, Profane Language and Intoxication from Drug charges had been filed against him.
However, it was a Chris E. Holloway, not Chris W. Holloway, the latter who is the town’s mayor, as verified by the above jail booking “mug” shot.
Glad to clear that little misunderstanding up for our readership and the mayor as a “tabloid” public service announcement. Contacted by email Thursday afternoon as he was between meetings, Mayor Holloway noted that he had been forwarded a Facebook social media screenshot asserting that he had been arrested on the above charges. And while he noted the post was later removed, a subsequent visit to the “Personal Blog” page revealed no visible correction to the initial assertion the mayor had been arrested.
“I think it’s sad that we have people that have nothing better to do than to stir hate and rumors throughout our community,” the mayor said of unsubstantiated public assertions he had been arrested.
And the mayor verified his middle initial “W” stands for William, not Eugene.