Attorneys in the Jennifer McDonald defamation suit against Tom Sayre argued a variety of issues during the June 19 Discovery Motions hearing in Warren County Circuit Court. At issue was the scope Discovery materials Sayre is compelled by the court to produce in response to plaintiff motions, including a reply to what the Shenandoah District County Supervisors’ net worth is.
On that latter issue Sayre attorney Margaret Fonshell Ward argued that while such information may eventually be relevant in such a civil damages case, it is not subject to a Discovery Motion by the plaintiff at this point in the pre-trial proceedings.
“Right now is not the time – it can be addressed later,” Ward told the court of establishing her client’s net worth.
McDonald attorney Lee Berlik countered, citing a Fairfax case he is handling involving an airline, in which such Discovery was allowed.
“I agree it is the defendant’s burden of proof (in establishing their net worth) but the plaintiff has the option of seeking the information,” Berlik argued, observing, “If it turns out Mr. Sayre is a billionaire … he may not want the jury to know that it wouldn’t be a burden for him to pay” the damages being sought.
Those damages in McDonald’s February-filed counter suit to Sayre’s $25,000 defamation suit filed in September 2018, total $600,000, including $350,000 in punitive damages.
Both McDonald and Sayre’s defamation suits revolve around the infamous “conspiracy to terrorize McDonald” note discovered at the scene of a stone-throwing vandalism at her property McDonald reported to law enforcement the evening of June 15, 2017.
As observed in yesterday’s lead hearing story, while dismissing the false police report charge against McDonald on Halloween the judge observed that something was “horribly wrong” about the note.** And Berlik himself observed during Wednesday’s hearing, “The note remains a mystery.”
But back to the net worth question attached to McDonald’s defamation suit against Sayre, Athey agreed with the plaintiff and granted its Discovery Motion for Sayre’s net worth.
Sayre attorney Ward asked that the information “not be disclosed beyond Mr. Berlik”.
“Do you have a problem with that?” Athey asked Berlik.
Berlik replied that he would like to check with his client before definitively answering that question.
“Okay, the two parties will know each other’s net worth – but perhaps not the public,” Judge Athey observed of the status of that Discovery Motion.
As for plaintiff Discovery Motions for Sayre electronic or other communications, Athey ruled the defendant must provide a log of his phone records for 21 days surrounding the June 15, 2017 vandalism report, including the evening it occurred. Berlik argued that since the note included an instruction to call the numbers in the note “when anything has happened” what numbers Sayre may have received calls from in the aftermath of the reported vandalism incident are relevant.
The judge agreed; and Sayre’s attorney did not object to a focused request for phone records.
Athey also agreed that specific defendant communications in 2018 could also be relevant, and ordered them produced as well as relevant materials sought from 2017.
As for three months of Facebook communications or messaging, Berlik cited vagueness in the defendant response, “We don’t believe they’re there.”
The response to the plaintiff’s additional query, “Did you look?” was silence, Berlik told the court. The judge told defense counsel that a more appropriate response would be, “They may be there – I’ve looked, I didn’t find them.”
McDonald’s attorney also cited a lack of response to his request that the defendant provide any evidence that McDonald did fabricate the note or stage the rock-throwing incident. Athey observed that his experience of such cases was that there was no such evidence to produce.
However, the judge did not address how the 2900 pages, or even the 100-page summary thereof, of the Cherry Bekaert financial fraud investigation he ordered produced in the EDA civil case might impact such a related defamation case Discovery request, at least on the circumstantial side of the equation as to possible motive.
Of course, Cherry Bekaert devotes an entire 18 bullet point sub-section titled “Scope Limitations” describing limits placed on its inquiry “by the EDA BOD (Board of Directors) and County Board of Supervisors” that set fact-finding limitations to its EDA inquiry. See more on that in a forthcoming Royal Examiner story and in this linked story.
** Footnote: The note pointed out to investigators responding to her report of the June 15, 2017 rock throwing vandalism details instructions and information tied to what appears to be a conspiracy to terrorize McDonald for some unstated purpose: “She either does this the easy way with us or we make her life hell. No one should get hurt in this, but scared absolutely,” paragraph three of the note reads in part.
The concluding of four paragraphs of instructional text in the typed or computer-printout note upon which no fingerprints were apparently found included the admonishments, “Do not take this sheet with you (reporter’s note: OOPS), but make sure to keep it in your car with our numbers. Do not call Tom during business hours cannot have anyone hearing the conversation, so call me first,” followed by a 202 number that evidence at McDonald’s October 31, 2018 false police report misdemeanor trial indicated was former Town Manager Michael Graham’s, followed by Sayre’s local legal office number.
On October 31, 2018, Graham testified he knew nothing of the note; and Sayre is alleged to have publicly asserted he believes McDonald fabricated the note and incident in order to discredit him professionally and politically – leading to the dueling McDonald-Sayre defamation lawsuits.
Two Dinwiddie, VA men arrested; firearms, felony assault, outstanding warrants & more
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.
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.
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.
Virginia Beach man arrested on charge of transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure or kill U.S. Senator
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.
Two Frederick County residents charged in Bealton murder investigation
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
Rappawan, Campbell Realty civil hearing date set; April Petty, Jesse Poe pre-trial hearing request under consideration by court
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.
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.
“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.
Update: State Police add detail on Saturday night high-speed pursuit
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.
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.”