Lambert found liable to EDA for $183,562 in compensatory and punitive damages
After hearing an hour-and-45 minutes of direct and cross-examination of defendant William Lambert, as well as two hours of combined closing arguments by plaintiff and defense counsel Wednesday, July 20, a seven-person Warren County Circuit Court civil case jury took less than an hour, 45 minutes to be precise, to reach a verdict in Lambert’s civil liability case related to the “Warren Economic Development Authority” (EDA, WC EDA, FR-WC EDA) financial scandal.
That verdict was for the plaintiff EDA on all five claims of Fraud, Conversion, Conspiracy, Unjust Enrichment, and Ultra Vires; the latter, as regular readers now know after three EDA civil liability trials this month, a legal term for a public or business official overstepping their legal authority. The EDA was seeking $345,000 in compensatory damages, the total amount moved out of an EDA credit line account by former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald in a 2014-15 home purchase and sale in which Lambert acted as a straw man in the purchase and sale of the 400 Craig Drive, Stephens City parcel. Two past EDA officials, former Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson and past board member Ron Llewellyn, both testified that there was no record of and no vote by the EDA Board of Directors to approve EDA involvement in the Stephens City home sale.
However, the jury awarded the EDA only $11,062.49 in compensatory damages. That was the total amount of three payments made directly to Lambert during the August 2014 to February 2015 purchase and resale of the Stephens City property done in his name as the initial purchaser and then owner-seller. Plaintiff attorney Cullen Seltzer pointed out that that purchase was made in Lambert’s name in 2014 for $320,000 and sold six months later for $270,000, a $50,000 loss.
“Who doesn’t care about a $50,000 loss in six months,” Seltzer asked rhetorically in closing arguments, suggesting an answer to the jury – someone consciously involved in a fraudulent transaction. During his testimony beginning shortly after 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, Lambert said his then-girlfriend, Kathy Butler, Jennifer McDonald’s sister, brought the proposition on the use of his name in her sister’s home sale transaction to him as an effort by McDonald to help an old college friend, Michele Bower, and her husband, sell a home she and her husband were “saddled with” after purchasing a home in Rockland in Warren County.
Lambert denied any knowledge that something untoward might be transpiring with McDonald illegally accessing EDA assets. However, as juries have been in the two earlier cases this month against defendants April Petty and Donald Poe, this jury appears to have found the paper trail presented by the plaintiff counsel convincing enough for a finding of liability. And with that finding, the jury imposed punitive damages of $172,500, particular to the claim of statutory conspiracy.
Following Judge Bruce D. Albertsons’ polling of the jury to determine a unanimous consensus and their dismissal by the court with thanks for their two days of attention and work, defense counsel Philip Griffin II told the court he would file a motion to set aside the verdict, particularly as to the punitive claim of statutory conspiracy and fraud. Griffin said he felt there had been no hard evidence presented indicating defendant’s actions related to “ill will, hatred, or spite,” as stated in the statute.
In fact, speaking to the media outside the courtroom, Griffin pointed to his client, noting he had previously had virtually no relationship with the EDA other than cutting some trees down on properties for them. During his time on the stand, Lambert noted one of his jobs was as a “logger.”
As he has in the earlier EDA civil liability trials, Judge Albertson set a time frame for motions related to setting the verdict aside. This one was for a 30/30/10-day turnaround, with 30 days for the defense motion filing, 30 days for a plaintiff response, and 10 days for filing of any additional material.
And next comes jury selection Thursday in the EDA versus Truc “Curt” Tran and ITFederal case, with that civil liability trial involving a compensatory claim of around $9 million slated to begin Friday morning, July 22, and continue through the following week.
Joint Task Force Apprehends Child Pornography Suspect in Linden, Virginia
In a successful multi-jurisdictional operation, a Linden man was arrested on May 25th following an extensive child pornography investigation. John P. Farley Jr., 70, of the 900 block of Northern Spy Drive, Linden, was arrested and charged with 16 counts of child pornography-related offenses.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division (CID), upon receiving information from the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) Police, conducted a search warrant at Farley’s residence in March 2023. During this operation, several electronic devices from Farley’s home office were seized and handed over to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Digital Forensics Unit for detailed examination.
Upon scrutiny, it was revealed that out of a total of 68 flagged items, 16 met the strict definitions of child pornography under Virginia state law. These items were carefully assessed by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Hajduk, leading to the formal charges under Virginia Code § 18.2-374.1:1 against Farley.
This collaborative effort showcases the crucial role of cross-jurisdictional operations in combating internet crimes against children. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office is a dedicated member of the NOVA/DC Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, an initiative coordinated by the Virginia State Police.
This case underscores the effectiveness of collective efforts across multiple law enforcement bodies, with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office acknowledging the pivotal assistance from the MWAA Police and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
As the fight against child exploitation continues, the public is urged to contribute any relevant information. For any details related to this case or the potential exploitation of minors, please contact Investigator Hajduk at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at (540) 635-7100 ext. 2223 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Law enforcement agencies stress the importance of community engagement in identifying and detaining child predators, maintaining that collective vigilance plays a critical role in preserving the safety and welfare of our children.
Blue Ridge Task Force strikes major blow to local drug trade
A resident of Rappahannock County, Eric L. Butler, 45, has been arrested following a six-month-long investigation led by the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force.
The Task Force executed a search warrant on Butler’s Brinkley Lane residence on Thursday, May 25. The operation led to the seizure of substantial amounts of illicit drugs, including 100 grams of cocaine, 20 grams of heroin, and 100 grams of marijuana. The drugs seized have an estimated street value of around $18,000.
Law enforcement officers also confiscated $21,792 in currency, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe, and seven firearms during the raid.
Butler is now facing multiple felony charges related to drug trafficking and illegal firearm possession. Specifically, he has been charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute a schedule I/II drug, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of possession of a firearm while in possession of a schedule I/II drug, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Following his arrest, Butler was transported to the RSW Regional Jail, where he is currently being held on a secured bond.
The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force, which led the investigation and subsequent arrest, is a coalition of law enforcement personnel from several local Sheriff’s Offices, Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Task Force includes members from the Rappahannock, Fauquier, Orange, Madison, and Culpeper Sheriff’s Offices; the Culpeper, Warrenton, and Orange Police Departments; and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.
This operation underscores the ongoing efforts by local and state law enforcement agencies to tackle drug trafficking and associated crimes in Virginia. The successful arrest and charges brought against Butler represent a significant victory in these efforts. Residents are encouraged to report any suspicious activities to their local law enforcement agencies, as community involvement plays a crucial role in maintaining a safe and drug-free community.
Landlord-Tenant dispute escalates into gunfire at Shenandoah Farms residence
A long-standing dispute took a dangerous turn early this morning as shots were fired at a Shenandoah Farms residence. Local authorities were summoned to 100 block Mountain Laurel Lane following reports of a heated altercation involving a firearm. The address was previously known to the deputies due to an ongoing conflict between the landlord and the tenants.
Upon arriving at the scene, deputies gathered evidence, including eyewitness accounts and a cell phone video captured by a bystander. The investigation revealed that 68-year-old Alan Wayne Forney allegedly fired a 12-gauge shotgun into the air and above the head of another individual, Jessie Lake, during the heat of the argument.
Forney was promptly arrested on charges of brandishing and recklessly handling a firearm and subsequently transported to the Rappahannock/Warren/Shenandoah Jail. A 12-gauge shotgun believed to be used in the incident was collected from the scene as evidence.
As the investigation continues, officials are encouraging anyone with additional information to come forward. Contact Deputy Doffermire at 540-635-4128 with any relevant details that could aid in the investigation.
This incident serves as a chilling reminder of the potential escalation of ongoing disputes and the role of the community in ensuring safety.
Reckless firearm discharge leads to serious injury, 19-year-old in custody
A young woman was treated at Warren Memorial Hospital after a reckless firearm discharge resulted in a gunshot wound. Authorities report that the incident occurred outside town limits and is currently under investigation by Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
The Front Royal Police Department initially responded to a report from hospital staff regarding a gunshot wound victim who sought treatment at the facility. Quickly ascertaining that the shooting incident occurred outside their jurisdiction, they handed over the investigation to Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigation findings suggest that the female victim sustained her injury due to the reckless handling of a 9mm Glock handgun by 19-year-old Nathaniel Liam Duncan. The incident took place on May 19, 2023, around 22:15 hrs on Rt 55/Strasburg Rd, as the victim was driving from Shenandoah County. The occupants of the vehicle, including the suspect, had recently left a gathering where alcohol was consumed.
Witnesses report that Duncan started to show off the Glock firearm in the moving vehicle, to the surprise of many who were unaware of the weapon’s existence. Despite the urging of a female passenger to stow the firearm safely, Duncan negligently discharged it, with the bullet passing through the driver’s seat and into the driver’s body. Remarkably, the injured driver managed to drop off all passengers at a residence before seeking hospital treatment.
Authorities later apprehended Duncan at a Warren County residence without any incident. The Glock firearm suspected to have been used in the incident was recovered from a shed at the same property.
Duncan has since been charged under Code of Virginia 18.2-56.1 for Felony Reckless handling of a firearm causing serious bodily injury to another resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has expressed its gratitude to the Front Royal Police Department for their prompt involvement and assistance, which contributed significantly to the swift handling of the investigation.
This investigation is ongoing, and the authorities are appealing to anyone with information regarding the case to contact Lieutenant M. Glavis at (540) 635-7100 ext. 1. The incident serves as a grim reminder of the potential consequences of irresponsible firearm handling, particularly when alcohol is involved.
WCPS staff members at Hilda J. Barbour Elementary on leave following complaint; Joint investigation by Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Social Services underway
Warren County Public School’s administration was made aware of a complaint involving staff members at Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School. The staff members were placed on leave pending an investigation. WCPS employees immediately contacted the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Social Services to conduct a joint investigation into the complaint.
Parents with children in the affected classroom were contacted and were asked to speak to their child and to contact WCPS personnel if they had additional questions or information.
Staffing has been shifted to provide continued educational services and supports in the classroom.
This is an ongoing investigation, and no additional comments will be made at this time.
Press Release from Warren County Public Schools.
Major fentanyl seizure leads to arrest in New Market area
In a significant operation carried out on Thursday, May 18th, 2023, investigators from the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, assigned to the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, made a substantial drug seizure resulting in the arrest of a suspect. Approximately 30 grams of powder Fentanyl, with an estimated street value of $3,000.00, was confiscated during a controlled buy and subsequent traffic stop in the New Market area.
The primary suspect, identified as 35-year-old Danielle Marie Bryant from Hopewell, VA, was taken into custody and charged with one count of Possession of a Controlled Substance (Fentanyl) with the intent to sell/distribute, in violation of VA Code 18.2-248. This charge carries serious legal consequences due to the dangerous nature of Fentanyl and its potential impact on public health.
Following the arrest, Bryant was released on a $7,500.00 unsecured bond and is scheduled to appear in Shenandoah County General District Court on June 9, 2023, at 9;00 am. The upcoming court appearance will determine the course of legal proceedings against the accused.
This operation was a collaborative effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies. Alongside the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, New Market Police Department, Strasburg Police Department, Front Royal Police Department, and the Virginia State Police provided crucial assistance during the investigation and subsequent arrest. Their coordinated efforts reflect the commitment to combating drug-related activities in the region and ensuring public safety.
Fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, has gained notoriety for its involvement in numerous overdose-related deaths and its role in the ongoing opioid crisis. Law enforcement agencies across the country have been working tirelessly to curb the distribution and sale of this deadly substance. The successful seizure and arrest in the New Market area underscore the commitment of these agencies to protect communities from the devastating effects of illicit drugs.
The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and the collaborating agencies are to be commended for their diligent work in disrupting the illegal drug trade and apprehending those responsible. This operation serves as a reminder that law enforcement remains vigilant in its efforts to safeguard the well-being of the community and combat the proliferation of dangerous substances.
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