Monthly Archive for July, 2009

White Supremacist Arrested for Harassing Police

Elisha Strom has been arrested for stalking undercover Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement detectives, WSLS reports. She’s been maintaining a blog dedicated to making public the identities of JADE members, where she describes stakeouts of their stakeouts, posts photos of the officers leaving their homes, provides dozens of surveillance photos of the detectives, and relates stories about how she goes about stalking them. It’s obsessive and creepy. It’s the photo of the officer leaving his home that’s gotten her charged.

Strom argues that the information that she’s provided is all a matter of public record, which is true, but stalking is itself a crime, and that’s because the components of stalking are all otherwise legal. None of this explains what Strom’s deal is with JADE members—it’s clear she’s trying to intimidate them, but there’s no telling why.

You’ll remember Strom for her husband, Kevin Strom, the pedophile, white supremacist and erstwhile troll. He was arrested in early 2007, sentenced to two years in prison in April of last year, and released just a few months later. It was his wife who turned him into the police, accusing him of physically assaulting her to keep her from testifying against him.

07/30 Update: Lisa Provence provides a whole lot more information and analysis in The Hook.

Albemarle Fair Doubles in Awesomeness

Grandfather and Grandson on the Scrambler
I adore the Albemarle County Fair. It’s my favorite time of year, which is to say this time of year—its six-day run started this evening. There are livestock displays, dozens of competitions, rides, loads of wildly unhealthy foods, and musical acts. (Plus great people watching opportunities.) A short drive south of town on 29, it’s open from 4 PM-11 PM during the week, 10 AM-11 PM on Saturday, and 1 PM-6 PM on its closing day, Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for kids (free for kids aged six and under).

My only complaint about the fair is that they somehow fail to attract the very people who would enjoy it the most—basically the folks who shop at farmers markets, want to raise chickens in their backyards, and are just starting to reap the benefits of this year’s tomato crop. My fellow Tech alumni appear to outnumber UVA grads, if clothing is any indicator. If accents are any indicator, attendees are mostly local. This is the year in which that audience should expand. A group named Backyard Revolution is providing free (with admission) classes in all sorts of Virginia homesteading skills: rainwater harvesting, orienteering, urban chicken keeping, arrowsmithing, seed saving, blacksmithing, building a batteau, knitting, composting, spinning, cider making, wall building, log cabin making, and dozens and dozens of other deeply cool things. I want to go to all of these things. There’s a dedicated area in the fair set aside for these things, with both classes (first come, first served) and displays that will remain up for the duration of the fair.

Visit the fair, check them out on Facebook, tell us about the highlights here, and take pictures & post them to Flickr

Mike Comer Arrested at Wintergreen

Accused embezzler Mike Comer was arrested at Wintergreen this afternoon, NBC 29 reports. He was found in their lodge, a literal stone’s throw from where search crews were looking for him a month ago. There’s no word on how long he’s been there, how he was found, or even what he’s been charged with, but presumably the whole sordid affair will all come out in the months ahead.

Michael Comer07/28 Update: From the “Terrible Ideas” category, Comer—accused of stealing $666,000—had to part with just $50,000 in order to post bond. I don’t care how you do the math, that’s just a sound financial move on Comer’s part. There’s no question the guy’s a flight risk, so the logic here escapes me. Commonwealth Attorney Denise Lunsford places the odds of him slowing up at “slim at best.” Apparently it was Comer’s wife who turned him in—he called her from a pay phone at Wintergreen, and she contacted police. Comer is now cooling his heels in his $1.35M home, where he may be, at the moment, having a “World’s Best Dad” badge pinned to his cardigan. (God help him if he’d stolen $600k from Glenmore via any method other than white-collar crime—he’d be held on $1M bail and facing thirty years, I guarantee it.) At right is his sharp new post-flight look, rocking an appearance not dissimilar to Jeffrey Shifflett at the time of his post-flight 2006 arrest.

“Save McIntire” Group Running Misleading Radio Ads

The McIntire Park Preservation Committee is running ads that contain inaccurate claims, Henry Graff reports for NBC-29. (Here’s a transcript of the ad.)

The narrator claims that “McIntire Park is about to be destroyed,” and that there will be “no more Dogwood Festival or Fourth of July fireworks.” Though it’s true that McIntire Park will be significantly reduced in area—and carved up—by the Meadowcreek Parkway, “destroyed” means that it will cease to exist, which is not true. There were erroneous reports that the Dogwood Festival would need to find a new home, which were immediately corrected by Mayor Dave Norris, who explained that the only problem was what to do with the festival for a single year, during construction. If the changes planned for McIntire would affect the Independence Day fireworks, that’s news to me, but if they can happen for the Dogwood Festival, presumably they can still happen on July 4th.

It seems to me that the reality of what’s slated for McIntire Park is bad enough that there’s no need to go making stuff up.

Comer Won’t Be Charged for Embezzlement?

This Glenmore embezzling story has taken an interesting twist: Glenmore isn’t interested in pressing charges against Michael Comer, Brian McNeill writes for the Daily Progress.

The Glenmore Community Association (GCA)—of which Comer was treasurer—is the one that’s short $666k. Comer was writing checks to Glenmore Associates (which owns Glenmore, but is separate from the GCA, which is the homeowners’ association), for which he also worked, and then recording those checks as income to Glenmore Associates. But he never deposited those Glenmore Associates checks, but instead has been pocketing the money for the past four years. The GCA describes those checks as “unauthorized,” saying that Comer kept any mention of these checks off of the books. Also, payments that were supposed to be coming into GCA from Glenmore Associates were being pocketed by Comer, so he was getting the money coming and going.

Here’s where things get weird. Glenmore Associates’ Jeff Gaffney—who is also Comer’s brother-in-law and the CEO of Real Estate III—said that “the company would pay full restitution to the Glenmore Community Association,” and that they’re “committed to making [GCA] whole.” Which doesn’t make much sense, because “making them whole” would mean compensating both for money that Comer pocketed on its way to GCA from Glenmore Associates—which is sensible, since there’s an argument to be made that Comer failed to make those payments as an agent of Glenmore Associates—and for money that Comer stole by writing checks to Glenmore Associates. The fact that Comer happened to make those checks out to Glenmore Associates really has nothing to do with Glenmore Associates. They’ve got no obligation to make GCA whole. If I were a stockholder of Glenmore Associates, I’d be pretty upset about that.

McNeill writes that the GCA “is not pushing for a criminal investigation,” but that they “simply want their money back.” If Glenmore Associates is pressing charges for the money Comer has stolen from them, McNeill doesn’t mention it. Maybe Glenmore Associates wants this all to go away, and the easiest way to do it is to pay off GCA—which presumably has hundreds of members—and eat the difference. But that leaves a criminal—one who has abused the trust of his friends, neighbors, and coworkers to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars—walking away scot-free, not even a wanted man, having learned that crime pays. If that’s the outcome here, then Glenmore should be ashamed for failing utterly in their duty to society.

07/22 Update: Pressing charges or no, Tasha Kates writes in the Progress that the Albemarle PD and the FBI are jointly investigating the case. Kates also reports that Comer doesn’t actually live in Glenmore, that Glenmore Associates is justifying their payment to GCA as avoiding “a devaluation of Glenmore property values,” and that Comer has been GCA’s treasurer for 15 years. I wonder to what extent Glenmore is cooperating with the investigation, given their stated opposition to bringing Comer to justice. There are lots of other interesting bits, so give this a read.