An emotional Hollis Tharpe let one of his attorneys speak for him in the wake of Special Prosecutor Heather Hovermale’s request that Judge William W. Sharpe dismiss the misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution charge against him Monday afternoon. It was a request Judge Sharpe granted.
“Based on this testimony the Commonwealth believes it cannot go forward,” Hovermale said after posing several questions to Cynthia Bailey, operator of a massage parlor on the 300 block of Biggs Drive in Front Royal. Bailey responded to each question, including whether she knew Tharpe or if he had ever touched her in a way she did not invite, asserting her Fifth Amendment right not to self incriminate.
As noted by her attorney David Downes prior to her questioning by the special prosecutor, the 55-year-old Bailey is facing two misdemeanor and two felony charges related to the operation of her massage parlor under the banner of Blue Valley Services.
Prior to questioning Bailey, Hovermale told the court prosecutors initially believed Bailey would be a cooperating witness, but later learned through her attorney that she planned to exercise her Fifth Amendment right if called as a witness in the Tharpe prosecution. Hovermale noted that the Commonwealth’s case against Tharpe revolved around Bailey, whom she observed was the only person present to hear the alleged solicitation request by Tharpe.
The whole hearing lasted 10 minutes, ending at 3 p.m., Monday afternoon, July 15.
Tharpe initially stopped outside the second-floor Warren County Circuit Courtroom B to address media present, but then quietly turned away arm in arm with his wife Debbie, saying, “I’m a little emotional right now,” as tears welled in his eyes and the couple moved away for some privacy.
Beau Bassler and David Hensley represented Tharpe. As Hensley returned to the courtroom for another case, Bassler commented on the outpouring of support his client had received from old friends and new – “Hundreds, thousands of people have sent prayers to him; they believe in him. He is a man of faith and that faith has taken him far. His wife, family and friends have all stood by him.”
Bassler noted his client’s resignation as mayor of Front Royal in the wake of the charges – “He stepped down so as not to be a distraction to the conduct of town government. Fortunately now the distraction in his life is over.”
“I guess it is appropriate at this time to announce I will be on the ballot for the November 5th election,” Tharpe did manage to say outside the courtroom. He said he had turned about 190 signatures in to the Voter Registrar to get on the mayoral ballot in November, 125 signatures are required to be put on the ballot.
After being indicted on the one misdemeanor count of solicitation by a Warren County Grand Jury, perhaps ironically whose foreman was now Interim Front Royal Mayor Matthew Tederick, on April 15, Tharpe initially announced he would place himself on administrative leave. But four days later on April 19 Tharpe said he would resign as mayor effective May 2. Tharpe explained his decisions as not wanting the charge against him to distract town government from the conduct of its business pending a resolution of his case.
At the time Tharpe called the misdemeanor charge against him “embarrassing” and “baseless”. He admitted to visiting the massage parlor, but for what he said were legitimate massages on his aching 67-year-old body.
Asked Monday if he now regretted stepping down as mayor, Tharpe said no. But he later added outside the courthouse, “They can’t take the mayor’s job away from me, the people gave it to me with 95% of the vote. Tharpe ran unopposed in his last election for a term slated to run to 2020. Interim Mayor Tederick has said he is not interested in seeking election to a full term.
Tharpe attorney Bassler praised the special prosecutor for her actions at Monday’s hearing. “Heather Hovermale is a fair prosecutor, a prosecutor of integrity. Instead of prolonging this to torture someone, in the face of developments in the case she let it go.”
A Virginia State Police press release announcing Tharpe’s pending indictment on April 12 indicated Tharpe’s charge stemmed from an investigation launched at the direction of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.
That there was an investigation into Tharpe went public on August 30, 2018, when Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden filed notice he would recuse himself from any possible prosecution relating to an “Investigation Concerning Hollis Tharpe”. Special Prosecutor Hovermale works out of the Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office of Marc Abrams, which was handed the case following Madden’s recusal announcement.
Had Bailey testified against Tharpe during Monday’s hearing, arguments on a change of venue request by the prosecution would have been heard. However in the wake of Bailey’s invocation of her Fifth Amendment right, the change of venue request became a moot point.
Front royal man charged with Grand Larceny and Forcible Sodomy of a 36-year-old victim
On Saturday, September 26, 2020, Troy W. Stotts, 51, of Front Royal, was charged with § 18.2-95, Grand Larceny and § 18.2-67.1, Forcible Sodomy of a 36-year-old victim. These felony charges are in connection with an investigation that was conducted at 1122 North Royal Avenue at the Budget Inn. The victim in this case made allegations against the accused stating that he took advantage of her while sleeping and stole her cash. The victim was transported by detectives to Winchester Medical Center for further treatment in this case.
Mr. Stotts was arrested on September 27, 2020, without incident and transported to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail where he went before the magistrate and was ordered to be held without bond. A court date for these offenses is set for October 20, 2020, at 10:00am, in Warren County General District Court. Further details regarding this matter cannot be released at this time due to the pending nature of the investigation.
This investigation is ongoing and anyone with any further information is asked to contact Front Royal Police Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at email@example.com.
Front Royal man arrested on three outstanding indictments, multiple drug charges
On Thursday, September 24, 2020, the Front Royal/Warren County team of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force (NWVRDTF) arrested Dontreal Arrington on three outstanding indictments for violations of Virginia Code section §18.2-248 distribution of schedule I or II controlled substances. These indictments stemmed from previous drug distribution incidents that occurred within the Front Royal/Warren County area. Arrington, who is the subject of an ongoing investigation involving the distribution of cocaine and marijuana within the Town of Front Royal, was also found to be in possession of cocaine at the time of his arrest.
Following Arrington’s arrest, agents with NWVRDTF obtained a search warrant for his residence in conjunction with the ongoing investigation into his drug distribution activities. A search of the property, located at 19 East Prospect Street in Front Royal, led to the seizure of approximately four ounces of cocaine, which has an approximate street value of $4,400.00. Additionally, over $35,000.00 in cash was also seized from the residence in addition to firearms, ammunition, and paraphernalia associated with illicit drug sales and distribution.
Following the search warrant, additional charges were placed against Arrington in connection with the evidence seized during the execution of the search warrant. These charges include one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine (§18.2-248(A)) and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm while simultaneously possessing a controlled substance (§18.2-308.4(A)). Arrington was held without bond and is scheduled to appear in Warren County General District Court on September 29, 2020, at 10:00 am in relation to these offenses.
Former Winchester attorney charged with embezzlement, forgery
CULPEPER, VA – A former Winchester based attorney has been indicted on felony charges related to an ongoing investigation into his business practices. On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, a Winchester County grand jury handed up one felony count of embezzlement, and two felony counts of forgery charges against Travis J. Tisinger, 53, of Forty Fort, Pennsylvania.
The charges stem from an investigation the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office initiated in May 2019 related to Tisinger withholding a client’s $8000 settlement and forging signatures.
According to the Winchester Star, Tisinger’s license to practice law was suspended by the Virginia BAR in 2018 for not providing requested records.
The investigation was referred to VSP from the Winchester Police Department.
Tisinger turned himself into state police Thursday, September 17, 2020, at the RSW Regional Jail and went before the magistrate who released him on bond.
The investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Two Front Royal men arrested and charged for drug distributed via mail delivery
Officers with the US Postal Service and the Front Royal/Warren County team of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force initiated a joint investigation after information was revealed that drugs were being distributed via mail delivery. On Monday, August 31, 2020, a search warrant was executed at 211 Fletcher Street, apartment #2. Four individuals were present at the apartment when the search warrant was executed. Two individuals were subsequently charged with the following:
Both men are residents of 221 Fletcher Street, apartment #2. Total seizure from the residence included methamphetamine with a street value of $4500 and marijuana with a street value of $1200. Both men are being held at the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail.
Local man arrested for felony fleeing after reported housefire
On Friday, August 28, 2020, at approximately 1:38 pm, the Warren County Fire and Rescue Services responded to a reported structure fire at a single-family home on Little Sorrel Road in Warren County.
Firefighters and Warren County Deputies arrived on the scene to an active fire contained to the lower level of the house, which was quickly extinguished. Firefighters determined that the home was not occupied at the time of the fire and WCSO Deputies assisted Fire Marshal, Gerry R. Maiatico in securing the scene.
The cause of the fire was investigated by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office. The initial investigation suggested the fire was suspicious, and Fire Investigators were joined by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office in a joint investigation.
The investigation revealed that an 18-year-old resident of the home, Jordan Dean Price was unaccounted for and posed a risk to himself. It was determined that a Ruger .22 handgun belonging to another family member was missing from the home, and Price may be armed. A local broadcast was issued by the WCSO for residents in the Freezeland Road area after Price was observed by WCSO Deputies at 3:18 pm driving a silver Saturn sedan with Virginia registration.
Jordan Dean Price refused to stop and pull over and took evasive actions to elude WCSO Deputies in pursuit throughout the area of Freezeland and Blue Mountain Roads. Price’s vehicle was found discarded in the heavily wooded area of Trillium Trail at 3:59 pm, with scattered ammunition observed in plain view upon the passenger seat, reinforcing the belief Price might be armed.
The WCSO established incident command on Freezeland Road and were joined by the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, and Virginia State Police in the search for Jordan Price. All three counties coordinated a focused RAVE messaging campaign through their respective 911 Communications Centers to notify residents to stay away from the area and to remain inside their homes.
Canine (K-9) and search teams from the responding agencies tracked Price for several hours and many miles on foot, eventually located him in the area of Sky Meadows State Park off Routes 17 and 50 in Fauquier County. Jordan Dean Price was taken into custody at 07:12 PM without incident and a loaded firearm was recovered from his person. Price was initially charged with a single count of felony eluding, § 46.2-817, and taken to the RSW Jail to appear before the magistrate for a bond hearing. Price is currently held without bond.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and anyone having additional information regarding this incident is asked to contact Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or WCSO Investigator Jeremy Seabright at 540-635-4128.
Larry Donovan of Front Royal arrested on firearms related charges
On Saturday, August 22, 2020, at approximately 06:20 PM the Warren County Sherriff’s Office received a delayed domestic violence report from a 65-year-old female alleging her husband was intoxicated and had fired two rounds from a 9 mm handgun into the ceiling of their home on Turkey Trot Road, Front Royal, Virginia. The victim then fled the home for fear of her safety.
The ensuing WCSO investigation resulted in an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) being issued by the Magistrate’s Office at 9:12 PM, along with three warrants for the arrest of Larry O’Bryan
Donovan, age 71 or Front Royal, Virginia. Based upon the concerns that Donovan may be intoxicated, was in possession of dangerous weapons, and had a previous history of brandishing
a firearm, the investigating Deputy Paul Bernd enlisted the assistance of the Warren County Special Response Team in securing the residence.
On August 22, 2020, at 10:21 PM, members of the WCSO arrived at Turkey Trot Road and made contact with Larry Donovan, who surrendered without further incident. Donovan was charged
with (1) count of discharging a firearm in a dwelling, (1) count of reckless handling of a firearm, and (1) count of brandishing a firearm. Donovan was transported from the scene by Fire and
Rescue to Warren Memorial Hospital for an unknown medical complaint not related to the incident. He was subsequently released and taken to the RSW Jail where he was held without
bond. Donovan is due to appear in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on September 10, 2020, at 0900 AM.
A consensual search of the Donovan residence resulted in the recovery of four handguns, including a 9 mm handgun. The weapons were taken for safekeeping until the resolution of the EPO.