For the past two and a half years, there has been a secret investigation into corruption in the Charlottesville Police Department. Late last week, that investigation was made public when two police officers were arrested. Reed Williams has been following the story for the Progress, and on the day of the arrests he wrote:
Two Charlottesville police officers were arrested Friday on federal charges of ignoring illegal activities and divulging sensitive information in exchange for bribes of money and sexual favors.
Officers Charles Saunders, 46, and Roy Fitzgerald, 45, and two other men face corruption charges that include bribery, conspiracy, witness tampering and making false statements. Both officers pleaded not guilty in federal court and were released on $25,000 bond.
The two men are said to have been bribed with cash and sex by Charles Phillips, who managed Maxx and, on the side, a prostitution ring.
All of this came to light in 2001, when Police Chief Tim Longo learned that the two officers had been watching strippers at Maxx while on duty and in uniform. He suspended the two and had the state police investigate. The state police, in turn, turned the case over to the FBI. Saunders and Fitzgerald have been on duty the entire time, but were suspended last week as the indictments loomed. Phillips, of the now-defunct Maxx, will plead guilty to a bribery charge, and his business partner will plead guilty to conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation.
In yesterday’s Progress, Reed Williams had an update, with reactions from the police, City Council, etc.