Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sheriff Without A Gun

Regular readers (Hi Leslie, Anne, and Dad) may have noticed a lack of activity here lately. Here at the board factory we have just finished upgrading a couple of systems to improve the quality of our finished product, a project that has kept me pretty much occupied for the past month.

During this period though I have not been living in a vacuum. I know, for example, that George Allen is up in the polls, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the Webb campaign's insistence upon focusing on catch words, slanders, and innuendoes instead of actual issues.

But even that is not what brought me out of hibernation. It seems there has been another "Big News Day" in Henry County's history of deplorable big news days. Why is it that every time Martinsville or Henry County gains national attention it because of some extremely negative news? Here is just a short list, in no particular order;
  1. Textile plants closing
  2. Sid Clower, County Administrator, convicted of embezzlement
  3. Short family murders
  4. The notorious jingle contest
  5. Ramona and the cable access station's reporter
  6. MZM and Duke Cunningham
  7. The largest mortgage scam in history
  8. And last, but by no means least, 8% of the Sheriff's uniformed Officers and the Sheriff were indicted today on drug, money laundering, and racketeering charges
I have no idea whether or not they are all guilty, I hope at least some of them are not.

The news today has been full of people saying that out of an employee base of 120 (approx.) employees, "only" eight were indicted. Only eight? Wow, that's comforting. That completely ignores the fact that 96 of that 120 are active, sworn law enforcement officers, 8 of which were indicted, that comes to 8.33%, a failure rate I strive to avoid at the plant in my production numbers. Add in the 5 other former sworn law enforcement officers who have been indicted and you get 13 out of 101, or almost 13%. With a failure rate like that Frank Cassell should have also been indicted for incompetence, if that was a crime.

The one intriguing thing about this story happens to be Frank Cassell himself. WDBJ, Channel 7 in Roanoke has undercover video of Sheriff Cassell discussing ways to launder drug money with former deputy James Alden Vaught. The quality of the video is very poor, but the audio is adequate to convey the intentions of Sheriff Cassell. Why would Sheriff Cassell go along with such a scheme if he was not afraid of information Mr. Vaught might have on him? Could there be any other explanation? I can't conceive of one, so you might want to watch for the proverbial "other shoe" to drop.

Sheriff Cassell was released today on $25,000 unsecured bond, with the caveat that he have no interaction with any law enforcement personnel. This effectively renders him useless as Sheriff, yet his attorney states that he will report for duty tomorrow. What will he do besides sit in his office and answer his phone, which I doubt he will do. Today the Henry County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for the resignation of Sheriff Cassell. Functionally this resolution is impotent, as Frank Cassell is an elected official, and thus not subject to the wishes of the BOS. Several people have asked me if the Board of Supervisors can cut the budget of the Sheriff's office to eliminate the pay of those active duty employees who have been indicted. I don't think that's an option available to the BOS.

I don't know of any parallel situation that has ever occurred in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Apparently we will wake up tomorrow with a Sheriff without a gun. Having been charged with a felony Mr. Cassell will have to dispose of any firearms he owns. But the bigger question remains, will Sheriff Cassell, guilty or not, ever regain the trust of the citizens of Henry County?

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