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Ex-prosecutor acquitted in public records case

A judge threw out a charge of fraudulent destruction of public records against former Lancaster County Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Jeffers Schmidt Jr. this month.

General District Judge Robert Pustilnik granted Schmidt’s motion to strike the misdemeanor charge, ruling the prosecution failed to prove fraudulent intent, according to news accounts of the March 6 trial.

Schmidt, the county’s top prosecutor for 26 years, was charged after he raised suspicion by removing some of his personal files from the commonwealth’s attorney’s office upon losing the 2011 election to Robert Cunningham. He also had two staff members sign nondisclosure statements.

While evidence showed some prosecution files also were moved, Cunningham acknowledged he was not denied any necessary records.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Jagels argued Schmidt’s actions amounted to “deceit,” but Pustilnik found no basis for bad intent. “He didn’t hide it. They were out in the open, everyone saw it,” the judge said, according to the Rappahannock Record.

“I can’t find any way, shape or form … that he did anything wrong,” the paper quoted Pustilnik as saying from the bench.

Schmidt was represented by Richmond’s Craig S. Cooley.

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