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 State Police, others investigating reports of criminal actions by officials in t

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State Police, others investigating reports of criminal actions by officials in town of Hallwood

HALLWOOD (January 19, 2008) - - Officials of this tiny Eastern Shore town are under investigation by more than one agency for government corruption, relating to destruction of documents, abuse of authority, and other unspecified potential crimes, sources tell the Virginia News Source.

According to sources close to the investigation, State Police investigators on Tuesday went to the private workplace of town clerk Angela Taylor demanding town council records.

The source said she told them she was keeping them in her home and accompanied police there to retrieve them. One key tape recording is missing.

Sgt. Michelle Cotton, a spokesperson for the State Police said, "We can't comment on ongoing investigations."

The investigations were launched after Hallwood Town Councilman James Dean reported to the Virginia Beach-based Unalienable Rights Foundation (UARF) numerous government irregularities, including that he was unable to get copies of minutes or tapes of town council meetings.

UARF launched an investigation and filed several unsuccessful Freedom of Information Act requests for documents. UARF President David Lindsey said the town's clerk, mayor and others stonewalled attempts to get documents.

It was then that criminal investigators were contacted.

Dean, said that after being elected to council, a citizen by the name of John Smith, a Baltimore resident, who has a second hand sales business in Hallwood, was told that the town had changed the zoning laws and his business was no longer legal.

In one council meeting a member of the council said it was their intent to 'run Smith out of town,' Dean said. The tape on which that statement was recorded appears to be the only one missing from Ms. Taylor's possession, Dean said.

"I started looking into the case because I believed Smith had been done wrong and public officials were harassing him," Dean said.

Lindsey said, "My understanding is that the town council changed the zoning and they are now telling Smith because of the new zoning, his ongoing business can't continue there and they have denied him a renewal of hisbusiness license."

Lindsey pointed out that in an April 20, 2007 case of Alexandria City Council v Mirant Potomac River LLC, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled "that once a business is operating and legal, even if the law is changed, the business can continue to operate as before. In other words the business has a vested right under Sec. 15.2-2307 of the Virginia Code."

Smith told Dean that council member and Hallwood Vice Mayor Alma Poulson was upset with him because he had outbid her son for the property on which he had his business and that was why the town was trying to force him out of business.

Dean said the police chief was used to cite Smith for zoning violations and he was prosecuted by Eastern Shore State Del. Lynwood Lewis, who wrote UARF in July, " "This is to advise that I am responding on behalf of the Town of Hallwood as the Town's attorney..."

Searching documents UARF found that "The Code of Virginia section 15.2-1542.d says: town attorneys can prosecute criminal misdemeanor cases with the concurrence of the commonwealth's attorney and authorization of the town.." UARF found no documentation of that authority being given Lewis."

Accomack County Commonwealth's Attorney Gary R. Agar, tried to be cute in responding to Lindsey by putting parenthesises around (UN) in Unalienable Rights Foundation as though it was spelled incorrectly, and said he hadn't authorized Lewis to prosecute for the county of town.

[Lindsey, irritated by stupidity of legal professionals, sent him a copy of the Declaration of Independence where the word is written 'Unalienable' and suggested Agar get his own copy out and read it.

Lindsey said that all of the criminal cases prosecuted by Lewis for the town are illegal and all convictions, obtained by Lewis, therefore are subject to being dismissed.

Francina V. Chisum, clerk of the Accomack County General District Court, in a letter to Lindsey said, "As a practical matter, it is extremely rare for a county of town attorney to prosecute a criminal or traffic case in this court. We cannot recall any such cases in the year 2007."

Lindsey said, "We know that's a lie. Lewis prosecuted 4 cases against John Smith."

Since this finding by UARF, Lewis revised his previous statement of being the town's attorney, writing, "While I from time to time represent the Town of Hallood in legal matters as requested by them, I am not on permanent retainer as the town atrtorney. I have a separate office and a completely independent practice of which they (the town) are but one of many."

He had requested a $5 FOIA fee from Lindsey, but when Lindsey sent it to him and after deciding he wasn't the town's attorney really, Lewis returned Lindsey's $5 bill saying, "I do not collect bills outstanding for any of my clients...".

Dean said he had to file FOIA requests to get copies of town meeting records and was unable to get the tape about running Smith out of town. "Taylor acknowledged making the tape, but said she subsequently destroyed it," he told VNS.

When approached by the state police this week, Taylor said she wasn't aware that all records of cities, counties, and towns are governed by the state's public records law - which not only requires they be maintained by such governments, but copies must be filed with the Virginia State Librarian in Richmond for archiving.

"I heard she turned white as a sheet when the police showed her that law," Dean said, "saying she really didn't know she had to do that."

Sources said the investigations are far from over and there could be criminal indictments.


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