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Removal Petition hearing on County Board continued to December



An as-yet undetermined date in December was set for the continuation of a hearing on the citizen-launched Removal Petition against the five sitting Warren County Supervisors. The hearing was on the Warren County Circuit Court docket Friday morning, November 22, at 8:45 a.m.

Judge Bruce D. Albertson heard motions and the reasoning for the continuance by video hook up from his home courtroom base in Harrisonburg. When a suggested date of December 6, when Albertson will be in court on EDA-related criminal hearings, did not work for one of the two defense attorneys, James Cornwell, the judge said he would like a specific December date agree upon within two working days.

As he had the previous day during hearings on EDA-related criminal charges, Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton notified the court of his intention to remove himself from EDA prosecutions with a newly-elected Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell slated to take over at the turn of the year, prior to any EDA-related trials getting under way. And with Bell planning to recuse himself from EDA prosecutions to assure there is not even a perception of possible conflicts of interest that might impact future EDA legal proceedings, Layton suggested that despite his desire to continue with the EDA cases, that they, like yesterday’s criminal cases, be turned over to the office of Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst.

Rockingham Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Parker appears poised to take on the bulk of cases Layton has been working, along with the EDA Special Grand Jury investigation. Layton again noted Parker needed time to get up to speed on the background of the various cases he is taking on.

See you again in December – primary motions arguments on the Removal Petition targeting the WC Board of Supervisors will be heard on an as-yet determined December date following Friday’s continuation. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

Defense co-counsel Cornwell and Acting County Attorney Jason Ham had no objection, by remote phone hook up, to Layton’s call for the continuance of the Removal Petition hearing.

During Friday’s hearing it was reported that notice of certification of the required amount of signatures had been received from Warren County Voter Registrar Carol Tobin. That certification, which came despite the loss of 107 signatures that could not be verified as registered county voters, allows the Petition for Removal from office of the supervisors to proceed.

The filing required a minimum of 10% of the number of registered county voters who voted in the last election. That number is cited as 6,958, requiring a total of 696 countywide. Even with the 107 lost signatures, the petition contained 835 verified signatures.

The petition was filed October 18 as part of the grass roots public reaction to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority financial scandal that has led to a number of dueling civil litigations surrounding the EDA’s attempt to recover $21.3 million dollars in allegedly misdirected or embezzled EDA assets. The EDA civil litigation alone has already cost the County and its taxpayers $1.31 million dollars in legal and investigative financial audit costs.

And with a $750,000 cap on attorney’s fees payable to the Sands Anderson law firm of Richmond removed by the supervisors on Tuesday, that number is anticipated to keep climbing over the coming year or more as the civil cases proceed and what is anticipated to eventually be in the neighborhood of a million pages of related documentation is submitted for those civil, and related criminal, cases.

The Removal Petition contends the County’s elected Supervisors were directly negligent and in dereliction of their official duties in allowing the alleged EDA financial embezzlements to develop under their indirect stewardship since at least 2014-15.

After the Front Royal Town Council voluntarily abdicated certain oversight functions several years ago when the County took over the Town’s operational funding of the EDA, the County Board alone now appoints EDA Board of Director members. It is those appointed members of the quasi-governmental EDA that have direct oversight authority of EDA staff, a defense motions filing in the Removal Petition case states.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton, left, with FBI and VSP during April 16 search of EDA offices. Leaving the office in January, Layton is fazing himself out of EDA cases and Commonwealth’s Attorney-Elect John Bell is recusing from them. So the Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will take over those prosecutions.

The Removal Petition cites the board members’ three misdemeanor criminal indictments on misfeasance and nonfeasance charges filed September 20 as one primary legal basis of the recall. Those charges targeted the supervisors, along with current and former EDA board members, for an absence of due diligent oversight of the actions of former Warren County Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer McDonald in the final four months of 2018.

However, the fact those indictments were dismissed by Judge Albertson as non-criminal by Virginia Statutes, even dating to English Common Law under which they were filed, may complicate the petitioners’ argument.

Just two days before Friday’s hearing defense co-counsel Cornwell and Ham filed a Demurer with the court seeking dismissal of the petition. Grounds cited for dismissal include a lack of jurisdiction for the filing; a lack of legal authority for the supervisors to act directly to limit the activities of EDA staff; and “Legislative Immunity” precluding the Judicial Branch of State Government from a “quasi-criminal” investigation of a Legislative body such as the county supervisors regarding how they conduct their business.

It would appear that while the timing of the defense Demurrer filing might have precluded proceeding with arguments Friday, a December hearing date could see arguments on these crucial legal points of contention.

On October 28, Judge Albertson denied a petitioner’s motion to immediately remove the five sitting supervisors prior to any arguments on the legal dynamics of the Removal Petition.

Warren County’s incumbent supervisors continue to await a decision on a citizen-filed Removal Petition – for three of them it will soon be a moot point.


Targeted by the Removal Petition are Daniel J. Murray of the North River District, Thomas H. Sayre of the Shenandoah District, Tony F. Carter of the Happy Creek District, Archie A. Fox of the Fork District, and Linda Glavis of the South River District. As of the turn of the year in the wake of Murray and Glavis’s retirements and Sayre’s defeat at the polls in November, only Carter and Fox will be impacted by the Removal action.

See Related Stories:

County Supervisors removal petition filed with 941 signatures

County officials, EDA board members have good day in court – will it last?

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Front Royal Virginia


Deputies rescue suspected impaired driver from pond after crash



At approximately 11am today, the Frederick County Emergency Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call stating that a SUV had driven off the roadway and into a pond in the area of Papermill Rd. and Harrsion Ln. The caller stated the driver was still in the vehicle and was not moving.

Deputies arriving first on the scene observed the vehicle, partially submerged in the water up to it’s hood, and could see the driver slumped over the wheel. Deputy Jason Hawse and Deputy Nick Dempsey removed their outer vests and gun belts and entered the frigid water to assist the unconscious subject. With outside temps of 27 degrees, and windchill making it feel more like 13 degrees, Hawse and Dempsey worked quickly, in the chest-high water, breaking the windows on the vehicle and pulling the subject out. Once getting the male driver to land, one dose of Narcan was administered and the subject regained consciousness a few moments later.

The driver, identified as Michael Surgent, 35, of Mechanicsville, Va. was immediately attended to by deputies awaiting EMTs to medically evaluate him for exposure. Based on witness statements, and evidence recovered later from the vehicle, it is believed that Surgent was “huffing” chemicals from aerosol cans resulting in his losing consciousness, and proper control of his vehicle. Surgent was taken to Winchester Medical Center and held for further medical evaluations. He has been charged with huffing chemicals, reckless driving and driving under the influence.

All deputies were checked on scene and cleared for duty, once out of their wet uniforms and warmed back up. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both pleased with, and proud of, the swift and selfless actions taken by his personnel, saying “This could have been much worse and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured in this incident”.

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Winchester man facing multiple charges after pursuit



A Winchester man is behind bars on multiple charges after he fled law enforcement Thursday (Jan. 19).

John P. Scaperotto

Virginia State Police have charged John P. Scaperotto, 44, in Frederick County, with two felony counts of possession of a schedule I/II drug, one felony count of eluding law enforcement, one felony count of assault on law enforcement, one misdemeanor count of reckless driving, one misdemeanor count of driving on a revoked license, one misdemeanor count of fictitious vehicle registration, one misdemeanor count of operating an uninsured vehicle, and one misdemeanor count of littering.

Scaperotto was also charged with several traffic infractions, including speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to stop at a red light, and failure to wear a seatbelt. He was also wanted out of Frederick County for failure to appear in court.

State Police initiated the traffic stop at approximately 8:10 a.m., as a Chevrolet pick-up truck was traveling south on Route 37 in Frederick County. The violation was for speeding – as the Chevrolet was driving 80 mph in a posted 65 mph zone. The Chevrolet refused to stop, and a pursuit was initiated.

The pursuit continued onto Route 50 and Route 522 before continuing back onto Route 37, where Chevrolet crossed the median and entered the southbound travel lanes traveling north. As the Chevrolet crossed back into the median, it attempted again to go in the wrong direction.

A state trooper struck the Chevrolet with his patrol car in an attempt to stop it from going in the wrong direction. The Chevrolet continued northbound, traveling in the right direction, where it eventually ran off the left side of the roadway into the median and collided with a guardrail. The driver, Scaperotto, was taken into custody and transported to the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, where he was held without bond.

One trooper suffered minor injuries during the course of the pursuit.

The pursuit reached speeds of up to 100 mph.

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Traffic stop by WCSO results in drug arrests and significant property seizure



On January 5, 2023, at 08:18 PM, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy T. Poe conducted a traffic stop on a white 1999 Mercury passenger vehicle at the intersection of Winchester Road and Riverton Road. The vehicle was stopped for making an illegal left turn from Strasburg Road onto Route 522.

A subsequent search of the vehicle and its occupants revealed a bag containing approximately 22 grams of white powdery substance purported to be crack cocaine, nine small rocks of suspected cocaine, several drug paraphernalia, smoking devices, and $16,398 in United States Currency.





U.S. Currency and drugs seized pursuant to drug possession arrest on the traffic stop.

The vehicle, currency, and drugs were seized pursuant to the arrests of the occupants. The driver, Arthur L. Summers (age 62) of Front Royal, and his passenger Melissa P. Myers (age 58) of Arlington, Virginia, were arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver (PWID) crack cocaine (§18.2-248 of Code of Virginia) and possession of drug paraphernalia (§18.2-251).

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Baltimore, MD resident arrested after investigation by the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force



The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force has concluded a two-month-long investigation with the arrest of a Baltimore, MD, resident.

The investigation led the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force officers to Prince William County, where they arrested Reginald L. Morgan, 56, on Friday (Jan. 13, 2023). He was taken into custody without incident in the 14400 block of Lee Highway in Gainesville. At the time of his arrest, Morgan had 2.5 ounces of powder cocaine and 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine in his possession. The drugs seized have an estimated street value of $17,500.


Reginald L. Morgan. Photos provided by the Culpeper Sheriff’s Office


2.5 ounces of powder cocaine and 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine in his possession. The drugs seized have an estimated street value of $17,500. 


Throughout the investigation, Morgan had been identified as a significant supplier of cocaine to the Culpeper area.

Morgan was charged with one felony count of distribution of Schedule I/II drug (3rd or subsequent offense) and one felony count of transporting Schedule I/II drug into the Commonwealth with the intent to sell or distribute. Morgan was transported to the Prince William County Adult Detention Center, where he was held without bond.

The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force comprises law enforcement personnel from the Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Madison, and Rappahannock Sheriff’s Offices, Culpeper, Warrenton, Orange Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.

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Frederick County Sheriff’s Office charge local business owner with possession of child pornography



The owner/operator of the Winchester Skating and Family Fun Center, located at 1629 Berryville Pike in Winchester, was arrested on January 13th on two counts of possession of child pornography and Driving Under the Influence.

Edgar Lee Jackson

Multiple allegations of taking indecent liberties with a minor were made against Edgar Jackson by several former female employees of the business.

The victims, all juveniles at the time of the alleged offenses, are adults and came forward wishing to have the matter looked into. The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the sheriff’s office interviewed the victims and, based on the information obtained, executed a search warrant at the business on January 10th.

Items of evidentiary value were seized, including electronic devices that were forensically examined and found to contain photographs of child pornography. Based on these initial findings, investigators obtained two warrants for possession of child pornography and placed a lookout for Jackson for arrest.

Friday afternoon, Jackson was located by sheriff’s office deputies behind the wheel of a Chrysler 300 passenger car on Martinsburg Pike (Route 11 North) at the I-81 interchange, where a traffic stop was executed. Jackson was transporting a 16-year-old male at the time and was found to have a blood alcohol content above the .08 legal limit. Jackson was arrested for DUI and transported to the regional adult detention center on that violation and for service of the two outstanding warrants. At the time of this release, Jackson was being held without bond.

Preliminary investigations indicate these offenses and allegations have been limited to juvenile employees of the business, and future charges are pending. Anyone with additional information pertaining to this ongoing investigation is requested to contact Frederick County Sheriff’s Office CID at 540-504-6577.

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Bristol man sentenced to 20 years in prison for meth and firearms convictions



A Bristol, Virginia man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for possessing with the intent to distribute crystal ice methamphetamine and for illegal possession of a firearm.

William Everett Himes was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Wednesday for possessing and intending to distribute crystal meth and illegally possessing a firearm. (Credit: Washington County Sheriff’s Office)


William Everett Himes, 38, was convicted after pleading guilty in June 2021 to one count of possessing with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crystal ice methamphetamine and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to court documents, the charges stem from a Washington County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office traffic stop in January 2020, where Himes fled from police and was later found to be in possession of crystal ice methamphetamine. A loaded .45 caliber firearm and more crystal ice methamphetamine were recovered from the front passenger seat of Himes’ vehicle. During Himes’ arrest, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm due to prior felony drug and violent crime convictions, including two 2012 felony convictions in Bristol, Virginia, related to methamphetamine.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Washington Division, made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Special Assistant United States Attorney M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, a Virginia Senior Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Attorney General’s Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section, prosecuted the case for the United States.

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