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Appointed prosecutor tosses Gloucester charges

A special prosecutor appointed to handle grand jury charges of official misconduct by four members of the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors decided to drop the entire case.   On the motion of Assistant Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Catherine Dodson, Substitute Circuit Judge Thomas S. Shadrick last week dismissed all charges against the supervisors.

In July, prompted by county prosecutor Robert D. Hicks, the grand jury had charged the four supervisors with violating the state Freedom of Information Act.  According the the Daily Press, however, the special prosecutor now has determined that the four had avoided the open meeting statute without breaking the law.

“The evidence presented to the grand jury showed that the defendants deliberately acted to circumvent FOIA,” Dodson wrote and added, “Such behavior is not a crime under Virginia law, nor do such actions violate FOIA itself.”

Dodson also moved to dismiss charges that the supervisors unlawfully searched the county attorney’s computer.

The abrupt end of the prosecution dismayed Kirby Smith, foreman of the special grand jury that indicted the supervisors.  “I am totally amazed, astonished and bewildered,” he said.

A recall petition against the four supervisors remains pending.

By Peter Vieth

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