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Linden man arrested, charged for child abuse

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On October 12, 2021, at approximately 8:20pm, Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an 8-year-old juvenile walking on Freezeland Road, Linden, Virginia. The caller stated the juvenile advised them they were running away from home due to being abused by their father. Deputies responded to 78 Lookout Point Way, Linden, Virginia, where the juvenile resides to perform a welfare check. Upon arrival deputies spoke with Matthew Steven Lewis, the juvenile’s father, and made contact with the juvenile. During the welfare check, deputies observed that the juvenile had sustained multiple injuries. Deputies had Warren County Fire & Rescue respond to the residence, and the juvenile was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for further treatment.

After the initial investigation Matthew Steven Lewis was placed under arrest for Domestic Assault (M), Child Endangerment (F), and Strangulation (F). Matthew Steven Lewis was held without bond at RSW Regional Jail, preliminary hearing is set for November 4, 2021.

Matthew Steven Lewis. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Front Royal Police Department, Virginia State Police, and Warren County Department of Social Services for their assistance.


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Update: April Petty awaits Judge’s decision on motion to dismiss EDA civil case seeking return of $125,000 received from Jennifer McDonald during 2016 home sale process

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(Author’s note: As of Saturday morning, May 28, at 11:15 a.m. this story has been updated with additional detail on the $125,000 check transferred from an EDA account by Jennifer McDonald to Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC during April Petty’s 2016 home sale process.)

Judge Bruce D. Albertson took dueling arguments on a defense motion to issue a summary judgment dismissing all civil claims regarding the FR-WC EDA’s action against defendant April Petty under advisement Tuesday afternoon, May 24. Cullen Seltzer represented the plaintiff EDA, now trading as the Warren County EDA in the wake of the Town of Front Royal pulling out of involvement as it litigates against the half-century-old joint Town-County EDA over disputed losses tied to the FR-WC EDA financial scandal. Petty was represented by defense counsel William Shmidheiser III.

Petty’s case, among a number of others alleged as beneficiaries and co-conspirators of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald are scheduled for civil court trials beginning in early July. Following taking the Petty motion under advisement the court dealt with jury selection issues with attorneys for a number of civil case defendants patched in by phone. Those included counsel for Truc “Curt” Tran and ITFederal, Donnie Poe and Earthlink Energy, Ms. Hassenplug, and Samuel North. With input from Circuit Court Clerk Angie Moore, it was decided a rather complex process involving a fairly large jury pool with begin Wednesday and Thursday June 29th and 30th.

The Petty dismissal motion filing dated April 21 targets all five aspects of the EDA’s civil case against Petty, scheduled for jury trial on July 5 and 6. All the civil liability aspects of the plaintiff EDA’s case against Petty revolve around receipt of a $125,000 EDA check from Jennifer McDonald that was applied to payment on a mortgage loan at Ocwen Loan Servicing on Petty’s home, during Petty’s 2016 effort to sell that home. That money is cited as part of the estimated $21 million in EDA assets that McDonald is alleged to have misdirected to unauthorized personal use and benefit of herself and others.


The five aspects of the plaintiff’s case against Petty are “Unjust Enrichment”, the receipt of benefit by one party from another without a reciprocal benefit to the other party (in this case the EDA); “Conversion” (unauthorized possession); application of the “ultra vires” standard of acting beyond one’s legal authority; “Conspiracy” in knowingly acting in concert with Jennifer McDonald in the receipt of misdirected EDA assets; and “Fraud” related to the “Conspiracy” allegation that Petty knew that $125,000 McDonald applied to her mortgage loan was money the EDA asserts was stolen.

Plaintiff EDA and civil case defendant April Petty are awaiting the court’s ruling on her motion for dismissal of case against her. Royal Examiner File Photos by Roger Bianchini

Petty’s attorney pointed out that when an earlier grand jury was handing out blanket criminal indictments against alleged McDonald co-conspirators including two full EDA oversight boards, April Petty was not one of those indicted by the grand jury. Pointing to what he believes is a lack of evidence against his client having any knowledge of the alleged embezzlement conspiracy, Shmidheiser asserted to the court that “all the charges” related to the plaintiff’s “conspiracy theory” involving her should be dismissed. Essentially that is the final four of the five above EDA claims against Petty.

“All they had, have today is the check,” Shmidheiser told the court of the $125,000 check drawn on an EDA account appearing to be co-signed by McDonald and then EDA Board of Directors Chair Patricia Wines made to Ocwen (misspelled as Owen) Loan Servicing LLC that was applied to Petty’s home sale price.

At this point Judge Albertson asked defense counsel if McDonald had, in fact, transferred that money to April Petty. “Yes, but April Petty did not know that it was embezzled money,” her attorney said walking a legal tight rope between knowledge and consequence.

“You’re asking me to skip over the trial part of this case,” Judge Albertson told Shmidheiser. “Yes, I am,” defense counsel replied moving toward his argument against the “Unjust Enrichment” aspect of the case against Petty.

Noting his client’s belief McDonald was acting in her role as a real estate agent with Century 21 Real Estate in helping Petty accomplish the sale of her home, Shmidheiser asserted that his client was not by legal definition “unjustly enriched”. He elaborated that in exchange for the $125,000 check Petty believed was fronted to her mortgage loan to help facilitate her home sale, “plus another $210,000 Petty received at Closing on her home, she Deeded her house, which was listed for $330,000, to purchasers Mr. and Mrs. Leary,” Shmidheiser explained.

“She didn’t get money for nothing, she got money for her house,” the defense attorney later elaborated to this reporter on his courtroom arguments. During those arguments in support of his motion for a dismissal of the civil case against his client, Shmidheiser revealed how he prioritized his case for dismissal. And it appeared he felt the optimum legal path forward if a trial was required would be in dispelling the notion that April Petty was a conscious co-conspirator of Jennifer McDonald’s in her alleged embezzlement schemes.

“We’ll live with all but ‘Unjust Enrichment’,” Shmidheiser told the court of the prospect of a two-day trial in early July. “I’m confident we will win at trial,” Shmidheiser added of having to present the defense case to a jury on the conspiracy aspect of the EDA’s civil claims against his client.

Defense counsel also cited an established three-year statute of limitation standard he said the plaintiff had not met in charging his client for liability for funds she received in March 2016. The case of Belcher vs. Kirkwood was cited by Shmidheiser in support of the three-year statute of limitations having expired by the time his client was charged civilly. To not apply the three-year Statute of Limitations precedent would be tantamount to the court altering existing state legal precedent, which the defense attorney theorized would lead to a higher court reversal of denial of his motion for dismissal on the Unjust Enrichment aspect.

Counterpoint

In countering Shmidheiser’s arguments, EDA attorney Cullen Seltzer disputed defense assertions surrounding the applicability of the Belcher vs. Kirkwood case in an alleged financial fraud not discovered at the time it was occurring in 2016 when Ms. Petty is believed by the plaintiff to have been involved. He also argued that the defense points being made in support of a motion for dismissal were more appropriate for a jury to hear for a finding of guilt or innocence.

For dismissal to be granted the defense must show that “no facts are in dispute” Seltzer told the court. And from the plaintiff’s perspective that is not the case. Seltzer noted that Petty admits the $125,000 check went to pay on her mortgage loan during her sale process.

“She was very anxious to sell,” Seltzer told the court of Petty’s motivation to accept money he said she had expressed “suspicion” about when offered. Of his client’s initial “suspicions” about the money offered from an EDA account referenced by the EDA attorney during arguments, Shmidheiser noted that Petty had been assured by, not only McDonald, but others that it was “business as usual” on the economic development/real estate transaction front.

Of Petty’s close friend Robin Richardson, who was said to have brought McDonald to Petty during her attempt to sell her house, plaintiff counsel told the court of a second transfer of funds. Seltzer asserted that when Petty put “almost $42,000 in her pocket from her home sale, she had given Ms. Richardson $10,000. Is there evidence that was money previously owed by Petty to Richardson or was it comparable to a “finder’s fee” for bringing McDonald into the picture to help facilitate the home sale with the $125,000 loan payment on Petty’s behalf, Seltzer asked the court.

And now both plaintiff and defendant are awaiting the court’s ruling on all aspects of the defense motion for summary judgment on dismissal of the case against April Petty.

The EDA office on Kendrick Lane was ground zero as the alleged financial scandal unfolded between 2014 and 2018.

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Joint motion to continue Luckey hearing toward what – trial date or plea agreement? RSW fatal overdose hearings also continued

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A trio of high-profile criminal cases set for hearings and at least one possible setting of a trial date were continued in Warren County Circuit Court on Monday morning, May 16. Those cases, in the order they were called on the May Grand Jury Term Day docket, were Daniel Edward Shifflett, Brian Thomas Martin, and William Raymond Luckey. Shifflett and Martin’s hearing were continued to July 11, at 9 a.m. Luckey’s hearing was continued to June 3, also on the morning docket.

Based on evidence indicating the in-facility sale and provision of a fatal opioid dose, Shifflett and Martin have been charged with Second-Degree Murder in the RSW Regional Jail inmate overdose death of Jonte Smith last December 12. Luckey, a former Christendom College professor and professor emeritus for 30-plus years, was arrested June 25 of last year on charges of “Indecent Liberties” and “Solicitation” of a minor child under the age of 16.

A hint that negotiations toward a possible plea deal in the 73-year-old Luckey’s case were being pursued was offered by Stafford, Virginia-based defense counsel Thaddeus Furlong in forwarding a joint motion with the Commonwealth for continuing the hearing at which a trial date was expected to be set. “I think we are making progress toward resolving this case,” Furlong told the court in seeking the continuance of the hearing.

Judge William W. Sharp granted the continuance to June 3rd on the 9 a.m. docket. The judge also extended Luckey’s $50,000 bond granted conditionally at the Circuit Court level on July 12, 2021. Luckey had initially been denied bond in a June 30 Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court hearing in front of Judge Nancy Reed. Conditions of Luckey’s bond imposed by Judge Sharp include that he has “no contact with minors without another adult within sight and sound of them” and “No contact directly or indirectly with the victim or the victim’s parents”. Luckey was further ordered “Not to counsel or direct or encourage any effort by anyone else to discourage victim, victim’s parents, or other witnesses from cooperating with the prosecution”.


William R. Luckey at the time of his June 25, 2021, booking at RSW Jail on indecent liberties charges against a minor alleged to have occurred three days earlier. Courtesy Photos RSW Jail website

The order forbidding attempts to influence a dropping of the charges addressed Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Samantha Meadows’ concern about the content of recorded phone calls between Luckey at RSW Jail after his arrest and his wife Julie, indicating a possible effort to influence the victim’s parents into dropping the charges, which Meadows noted during that earlier bond hearing would be witness tampering, a crime in its own right.

A pandemic-masked and frail-looking Luckey made his way into the courtroom shakily late Monday morning, with the aid of a walker. Defense council Furlong told the court his client suffered the consequences of an earlier brain injury. In arguing for bond in the lower court, Furlong’s co-counsel Shannon Johnson cited myriad health issues Luckey suffered from that would be exacerbated by continued incarceration. Those included cardiac problems, high blood pressure, and consequences of a past back injury. Defense counsel Johnson also contended that specifics in the Commonwealth’s case against Luckey indicate a comparatively mild incident compared to some of the verbiage included in the “Solicitation” warrant reflecting the harsher side of sex abuse against minors statutes.

As reported in Royal Examiner’s coverage of the June 30 J&D Court bond hearing, responding to his wife’s taped phone conversation comment, “This isn’t what happened” of specific oral or penetrative sexual acts listed in a general “Solicitation” warrant, Luckey replied, “No, it doesn’t say ‘Show me your hiney’.” At the initial bond hearing the prosecution first presented evidence indicating Luckey had offered the child ten dollars to see their posterior, which was declined. However, the prosecution noted that the ten dollars had been left by Luckey, perhaps indicating additional efforts by the defendant that achieved that initial request.

RSW overdose charges

As to the two scheduled preliminary hearings for Shifflett and Martin, the former who also overdosed the day of the Jonte Smith’s overdose death, both were continued to July 11, on the 9 a.m. docket. Shifflett was represented in the courtroom by defense counsel Lou Nagy. Shifflett, like Martin who was represented by Greg Bowman, appeared by video from RSW Regional Jail where they both were incarcerated at the time of the overdose drug incidents of last December 11-12.

Daniel Shifflett, 32, and Brian Martin, below 34, are both facing 2nd Degree Murder charges in what is believed to be an unintentional opioid overdose death of fellow inmate Jonte Smith, 21, on Dec. 12, 2021, at RSW Regional Jail.

As previously reported by Royal Examiner regarding the “Death in Custody Briefing” of RSW Regional Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison on March 24, the meeting minutes state: “Mr. Gilkison explained that the event took place on the night of December 11 and into the morning of December 12; inmate Daniel Shifflett and inmate Jonte Smith who were both incarcerated; had a medical emergency that was discovered after the fact that it was an overdose. The inmates obtained the heroin (corrected spelling) that inmate Shifflett stated that they were taking; from another inmate inside of the housing unit.”

Brian Martin is believed to be that inmate.

RSW Regional Jail Authority will go into a second closed session on personnel issues related to inmate overdose death

“Staff responded to the medical emergency; performed First-Aid, CPR to include AED, administered Narcan, and EMS was called. Mr. Shifflett was revived about the time EMS arrived on the scene, unfortunately, Mr. Smith was not revived by our staff or EMS and was taken via local transport to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on December 12, at 0120 hours (1:20 a.m.).”

Jonte Smith was incarcerated on Sch. I and II drug possession and a firearms charge at the time of his death.

Also as previously reported: “Inmate overdose survivor Daniel Shifflett, 32, and a second inmate, Brian Martin, 34, were indicted by a Warren County Grand Jury on April 11 for Second-Degree Murder in what is believed to have been the 21-year-old Smith’s accidental death from an opioid drug overdose. Other pending charges against Shifflett, who was incarcerated on a Probation Violation charge related to earlier drug offenses when he overdosed inside the jail, include 10 counts of distribution of a Schedule I or II substance for at least a third offense. Martin is charged with eight counts of distribution of a Schedule I or II substance for at least a third offense. At the time of his death Smith was incarcerated on possession of Schedule I, II drugs and a firearms charge.

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POSF Inc. ruled subject to FOIA law in Chappell-White civil suit – ‘However’ evidence lacking for finding of violations

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After over two hours of testimony, defense objections to much of that plaintiff testimony as hearsay or irrelevant, and arguments on the legal status of the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms Inc. (POSF) regarding its necessity to comply with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law regarding its role in management or potential management of Farms Sanitary District projects, Warren County General District Judge Michael Helm offered a two-phased decision. First, he ruled that the POSF was functioning as a public entity subject to FOIA law related to its expenditure of Sanitary District fees collected by Warren County as tax revenue.

“Point” to plaintiff and Farms resident Melissa Chappell-White, who brought the civil complaint seeking an injunction against the POSF acting in any business management function in the Sanitary District. Her civil court filing also sought significant financial penalties against POSF board members, ranging from $500 to $2,000 per alleged FOIA violation.

“However,” the judge continued in ruling that the plaintiff had produced no substantial evidence in support of her alleged FOIA violations, including POSF “secret meetings” and non-FOIA compliant motions into closed sessions. Judge Helm elaborated that the plaintiff had submitted no evidence that she, or anyone, had submitted a FOIA request to the POSF that had not been responded to by FOIA law or that evidence of such requests was absent from her filing.

“Game, set, match” to the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms Inc. and its board, represented in court Wednesday, May 11, by current Chairman Ralph Rinaldi, Treasurer Bruce Boyd, and Office Manager Lisa Blansett. However, only Rinaldi was called to testify for the defense by POSF defense attorney Kayla Humenick.


Melissa Chappell-White and Ralph Rinaldi presented varying viewpoints on the past and future of Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District management at the March 29th meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, as they did again in the WC Courthouse on May 11. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini.

Chappell-White, a retired attorney, represented herself and was the only witness called for the plaintiff. That call led to Chappell-White’s detailed review of paperwork she submitted with her civil complaint. Some of that paperwork upon which her case was built were meeting minutes, including both POSF and County Board of Supervisors meetings related to a recent initiative by the POSF to terminate a 2011 Sanitary District Management Agreement in which direct management of maintenance projects by the POSF was handed over to the County just over a decade ago, with a right of termination by either side with 90-days notice.

As to her allegations of illegally convened POSF meetings without proper notice, Judge Helm pointed to the only evidence the plaintiff provided. That evidence was a lack of knowledge of the POSF meeting schedule by the plaintiff and what she cited as 7 or 8 Farms’ resident allies who attended a March 29 County Supervisors meeting at which the POSF management agreement termination initiative was publicly presented by Rinaldi. The only way she and several other Farms citizens knew about the presentation was a call from one of the supervisors alerting her to it the day prior, Chappell-White testified.

However, Rinaldi testified that the POSF’s regular meeting schedule for the year was published a month or two prior to the start of that coming year. He also told the court that notice of special meetings were posted on the window of the POSF headquarters a number of days prior, as he understood was legally required. The judge ruled it appeared the POSF was FOIA compliant with meeting notices, based on Rinaldi’s testimony and a lack of contradictory evidence from the plaintiff.

Asked on direct examination if the POSF Board had “ever held a secret meeting,” Rinaldi replied, “That has never happened since I’ve been on that board.” Rinaldi has been on the board for over a decade.

Of plaintiff references to too-vague motions into closed sessions at POSF meetings, the court again cited a lack of verifiable evidence. After noting a shift in the burden of proof in the context of civil litigation in prefacing his decision, Judge Helm observed, “I don’t have evidence to show a willful act to hide their agenda – a lot of speculation is all I have.” Consequently, without more substantial evidence, the court ruled for the defense in dismissing the plaintiff’s requested injunction to prohibit POSF from “Conducting any business involving the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District” based on a history of FOIA violations. And with no FOIA violations haven been proven, the plaintiff’s seeking of relief in the way of financial penalties being imposed on POSF board members was dismissed as well.

With a right to appeal the decision having been noted by the judge outside the courtroom, Royal Examiner asked Chappell-White for a reaction to the court’s decision.

“I think the court had reasons for what it did – it’s not worth appealing. I accept the court decision,” she replied. She added that she believed a positive function from her civil filing had been achieved. “I think many lessons have been learned,” she said of a raised awareness by the POSF Board of Directors as to the heightened necessity of FOIA compliance and record-keeping of that compliance regarding Sanitary District business and the use of Sanitary District fees for road, facilities, and other maintenance projects.

But as to the future of Sanitary District project management, as previously reported by Royal Examiner, the county’s elected board has instructed the county administrator to advertise for citizen applicants to a Shenandoah Farms Management Advisory Board. So, it may be that while Chappell-White’s hope of halting the POSF retaking of Sanitary District project management authority wasn’t achieved in the Warren County Courthouse this week, it may be getting more traction within the halls of the Warren County Government Center.

Chappell-White may be getting more traction for her perspective on a desired future of Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District management at the WCGC, below, than she did this week at the county courthouse.

Other than expressing some relief, Rinaldi initially declined comment on the civil court rulings pending further discussion with the POSF’s legal counsel.

 

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Florida man arrested in possible Front Royal human trafficking case involving minor

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A Florida man is being held without bond in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail after being arrested Thursday, May 12, by Front Royal Police officers for allegedly having sex with a juvenile under the age of 15.

FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis said patrol officers were alerted to a possible human trafficking situation regarding an adult who was suspected of having sexual relations with a juvenile.

Upon further investigation, it was discovered that William Chase Mathews, 23, was providing housing for the juvenile and acting as her caretaker. The Florida resident reportedly came to the area recently to provide for the juvenile, whom he had recently met online.

William Chase Mathews


Mathews appeared before a magistrate and was denied bond; he will have a court appearance on June 9, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Magalis stated in the release that detectives are seeking any information regarding this case or any other situations in which a minor may have been solicited or exploited. Chief Magalis said in the release that parents should be aware of the social media platforms their children use online and report any suspicious activities to local law enforcement.

The Front Royal Police Department is an active member of the Northern Virginia/DC Metro (NOVA/DC) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is coordinated by the Virginia State Police.

Out of all states and U.S. territories, Virginia ranks 6th for the most human trafficking cases on federal court dockets, according to Kyleigh Feehs, Associate Legal Counsel for the Human
Trafficking Institute, which began compiling statistics on cases in 2017.

That year, there were 783 active criminal and civil human trafficking cases involving 1,930 defendants in the federal court system in the United States. In Virginia, 33 active human trafficking cases in 2017 generated 401 federal charges involving 74 defendants.

Human Trafficking Institute data released in late 2021 shows that two new human trafficking cases were brought to federal court in Virginia, resulting in six people being convicted. The Institute said then that the data release did not consider state cases nor the fact that some courts were shuttered during the Covid pandemic.

Anyone with further information regarding the Front Royal case is encouraged to contact Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at mramey@frontroyalva.com.

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Winchester man arrested for Second Degree Murder following early morning shooting

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A Winchester man was arrested following the investigation into a homicide that occurred on May 6, 2022. At approximately 1:32 a.m. Winchester Police Department (WPD) officers responded to the 1800 block of Henry Avenue for a fight. As officers were approaching the scene, 911 calls were received advising a male had been shot. The male, identified as Nathaniel Jones, 37, of Winchester, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Jessie Nathaniel Simms, 32, of Winchester

An investigation immediately originated by WPD Criminal Investigations Division, with the assistance of the Medical Examiner’s Office. WPD Criminal Investigations obtained a search warrant for the suspect’s residence in the 1800 block of Henry Avenue and seized a handgun.

The victim and suspect were acquaintances, and this was an isolated incident between those individuals. As a result, Jessie Nathaniel Simms, 32, of Winchester, was charged with Second Degree Murder and transported to the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, where he was held without bond.


Anyone with information on this investigation is asked to contact Detective Bansal with the Criminal Investigations Division at 540-545-4704 or anonymously use the P3 tip app or by calling 540-665-TIPS.

(Press release Winchester Police Department)

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Citizen FOIA timeframe exemption claim against POSF denied, hearing continued to May 11 on allegation of FOIA violations

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Long-time Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms (POSF) Board critic Melissa Chappell-White has added a FOIA violations complaint to her list of alleged failures of the organization. In fact, during a hearing on her complaint in Warren County General District Court on Wednesday, May 4, Chappell-White alleged to substitute Judge Ian Williams that the POSF had failed to comply with what she interpreted as a FOIA timeframe requirement for a response to her filing.

Current POSF Board Chairman Ralph Rinaldi told the court his wife has signed for receipt of the paperwork the morning of the previous day, Tuesday, May 3rd, and he had first seen it later that afternoon. Judge Williams noted that normal FOIA response requirements alluded to 7 days for a provision of requested materials with an “at least 3-day” variable on what appeared to be referenced as notice of receipt of the FOIA filing.

Chappell-White told the court she didn’t believe the referenced timeframe applied in her filing. Asked why by the court, Chappell-White could provide no statutory support for her contended exception. Citing potential “extensive penalties” related to her complaint, Judge Williams noted that the defendant was “entitled to something” in the way of a timeframe to reply to the allegations and prepare a legal defense to the assertion of non-compliance she appeared to be making, adding, “I want to give it to them.”

In an attachment to her petition in addition to asking for payment of her costs, Chappell-White asks for civil penalties of $1,000 for each of what she alleges were “improperly closed meetings” and civil penalties of $500 to $2,000 against “each officer, employee and member (of the POSF) for each and every willful violation” of FOIA law.


With these legal variables facing the POSF and its chairman present representing his board less than 24 hours after having received the Chappell-White filing, after consultation with the court clerk, the hearing was continued to Wednesday, May 11th at 11:15 a.m. Williams noted he would not be in court that day, with the hearing likely held in front of Judge Michael Helm in the wake of the recent retirement of Judge W. Dale Houff.

A hearing on a FOIA non-compliance complaint against the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms (POSF) will return to the Warren County Courthouse this coming Wednesday, May 11, nine days after the POSF chairman was served notice of the complaint. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

 

Queried about the allegations outside the courtroom, POSF Inc. Board Chairman Rinaldi said all the regular POSF meetings are held on a publicly posted schedule, with any special meetings advertised at POSF headquarters, which by his understanding met legal requirements for meeting notices.

Chappell-White, along with a couple of other prominent POSF critics, have noted they have elected not to become involved with the POSF as members and generally do not attend POSF meetings to give input on POSF perspectives in an advisory role to Warren County on the management of the Farms Sanitary District since 2010/11. Prior to that the POSF had managed the Sanitary District in conjunction with the county government since the Farms Sanitary District inception in 1995.

Chappell-White’s filing asserts that: “Most recently, POSF Inc’s actions have violated the rights and privileges of the taxpayers of the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District (SFSD), including petitioner Chappell-White, by planning in secret to try to take over management of the SFSD without giving notice of its intentions and opportunity for SFSD taxpayers to become informed or participate in the decision-making process. Respondent met secretly to develop its plan, and even kept secret its intention to present its plan at a Board of Supervisors meeting on March 29, 2022.”

Background

In the wake of the POSF Inc.’s notice to the county government that it wished to terminate the 2011 management agreement, effective at the end of this fiscal year, the Warren County Board of Supervisors has accepted that notice per conditions of that agreement. And while POSF critics have claimed credit for that 2010/11 County management takeover, Rinaldi noted that POSF leadership at the time, including him, approached the County about taking over management responsibility due to the amount of money involved.

According to County Administrative Office records, of 1,762 surveys distributed to Farms residents in December 2009 regarding the future of the Sanitary District’s management, only 252 (14.5%) were returned. Of that less than 15% response, 66.2% favored a change in management away from the POSF, with 82% of that majority favoring the County taking over. The primary reason cited by supporters of a change was the size of the sprawling Sanitary District requiring a larger management entity’s oversight.

Melissa Chappell-White is alleging FOIA non-compliance in the calling of POSF meetings and closed sessions to discuss legal matters as the move to alter the 2011 Farms Sanitary District Management Agreement approached. Current and past POSF Chairman Ralph Rinaldi, below at the same March 29 BOS meeting Chappell-White is pictured at above, has a different perspective. Those dueling perspectives are headed toward an eventual courthouse clash.

It appeared the POSF anticipated retaking the Sanitary District Management lead in the wake of County financial reporting lapses and the submission of higher road improvement project cost estimates than the POSF was finding over the past year. However, at its meeting of May 3rd, the board of supervisors instructed the county administrator to advertise for Farms residents applications to a Sanitary District Management Advisory Board. Rinaldi has said he feels the current POSF Board is more qualified for the management role than he felt it was in 2010/11.

However, it remains to be seen how many current POSF board members will feel compelled to apply for those Advisory Board positions after being rejected as group, apparently without notice, from the county government.

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May 30 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2022 Memorial Day Community Band Concert @ Gazebo
2022 Memorial Day Concert by Front Royal Community Band Monday, May 30, 2022, 7pm, at the Gazebo on Main St. (sponsored by American Legion Post #53)
Jun
1
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jun 1 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jun
4
Sat
10:00 am Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 10:00 am – Jun 5 @ 11:00 am
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Overnight Parking Lot. Ready to try backcountry camping? Spend 24 hours in nature learning backcountry skills and survival techniques with professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch. With Sky Meadows’ Backcountry Campground as the[...]
10:00 am Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Boston Mill Road Trail near the Park Office. Learn how fences and tree plantings improve water quality at Sky Meadows State Park. Stop by our Explorer Outpost table along the Boston Mill Road Trail where[...]
10:00 am National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 10:00 am – Jun 5 @ 12:00 pm
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the intersection of Boston Mill Road Trail and Hadow Trail. Get your hands dirty as we work to improve the hiking experience on Hadow Trail. Join park trailblazers as they work to enhance[...]
11:00 am Gospel Music Festival @ Gazebo
Gospel Music Festival @ Gazebo
Jun 4 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Gospel Music Festival @ Gazebo
FOOD WILL BE AVAILABLE | FUN ACTIVITIES! | LIVE MUSIC!
12:00 pm Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Log Cabin in the Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log Cabin to see what tasty treats are cooking on the hearth. Watch as a Sky Meadows volunteer dons historic clothing and cooks delicious[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
Jun
8
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jun 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jun
11
Sat
8:30 am Crooked Run Valley 5/10k @ Sky Meadows State Park
Crooked Run Valley 5/10k @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 11 @ 8:30 am – 10:30 am
Crooked Run Valley 5/10k @ Sky Meadows State Park
Explore the Crooked Run Valley and Sky Meadows State Park with Bishop’s Events 5k and 10k races. Get rejuvenated as you traverse through the meadows, pastures and woodlands of Sky Meadows and into the back[...]