The two guys accused of bribing a pair of Charlottesville police officers with cash and sex have pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, reports Reed Williams in the Progress. The really amazing bit is this:
According to [U.S. Attorney Thomas J.] Bondurant, [police officer Charles] Saunders once drove to [Jason] Madison’s house in a police wagon while in uniform and had sex with a blindfolded, underage girl.
It’s one thing to watch strippers while on duty and in uniform. It’s another altogether to pay to have sex with a blindfolded minor while on duty and in uniform.
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.
Amazingly, four separate people have been arrested, each separately charged with embezzling from Albemarle County. Two former employees of the school system, one school custodian, and one former finance employee have been charged with a total of $25,000 in theft between them, Reed Williams writes in today’s Progress.
One, a former Murray Elementary cafeteria manager, stole over $5,000 in parentally-established lunch money accounts. Another, who worked in the media center offices, falsified mileage reports and stole a fax machine for a total of $12,000. Another — the custodian — took three 27″ TVs, two Macs, two drills and two power saws, which he pawned, adding up to $5,319. The fourth, the finance employee, embezzled $2,500 between September ’04 and January by taking cash payments filed for building permits.
The four cases are described as county officials as both unrelated to each other and very unusual. The fact that they were all caught seems to indicate that somebody in the county accounting department is doing their job.
Dope that I am, I read WINA‘s weekly notices of speed trap locations around town, and figure I know where the police will be and where they won’t. In this week’s Hook, Lisa Provence explains how the system works, with a little help from Sgt. Mike Farruggio.
My favorite bit in the piece is an offhand mention by Albemarle Lieutenant John Teixeira, who describes Albemarle as nearly as big as Rhode Island. Wha? So I checked the Census. Lo and behold, Rhode Island is 1,045 sq. mi. (counting only dry land), and Albemarle is 723 sq. mi. I don’t know if “nearly as big” is the phrase, but it’s not bad. Augusta County, however, is 970 sq. mi., and Rockingham is 851 sq. mi. I’d say if anybody around these parts of Virginia gets to claim that they’re nearly as big as Rhode Island, it’s the folks to the west of us.