The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Is Prince William's Sheriff Above the Law?


One of the cornerstones of a civilized society is that nobody is above or below the law. We as Americans pride ourselves in this basic principle. This principle applies equally to the rich, the poor and especially to those who hold positions of public trust. At least most of the time.

So, yesterday’s report in the Washington Post concerning the plea agreement of former Sheriff E. Lee Stoffregen III, of Prince William County, Virginia is another black eye for public servants everywhere.

It seems this plea agreement saves the former Sheriff from having to face serious felony charges that could have produced real jail time. In return the former lawman enters pleas of “no contest” to misdemeanor charges, returns $16,500 in missing money and gives back an expensive civilian version of the military M-16 assault rifle that he took with him when he left office. News reports suggested that some of the missing money was used to pay for the Sheriff’s “retirement party” after he lost his re-election bid!

While the plea agreement required former Sheriff Stoffregen to sign an agreement acknowledging that “the evidence against me…is sufficient that a trier of fact could convict me…” the deal mercifully would wipe Stoffregen’s record clean in six months so long as he repays the money and gives back the gun.

This brings me back to the basic cornerstone of a civilized society: the idea that nobody is above the law.

For what ever reason, Mr. Stoffregen may be the exception to the rule. Maybe some people in high places are above the laws that apply to everybody else. Maybe there were extenuating circumstances.

I am just wondering how many other citizens of Prince William County would be allowed to pilfer the public coffers of $16,500, steal an expensive gun, get caught, forced to confess, and then in the end, have the record wiped clean when the stolen stuff is returned.

Think about it! How many bank robbers would like to have that same opportunity to give the money back after they get caught?

Mr. Stoffregen… you are one lucky man that the laws of the land may not always apply equally to all persons in every case. Maybe this is “justice” of a sort. But it would seem that the prosecutors would have some explaining to do to the rest of us regular folks who may not enjoy such “forgiveness” when we break the law.

Readers of Prince William County… your thoughts please!


  • At 2/16/2006 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is just another all too common case of corrupting nature of power. I suspect this guy was never too much into the "Protect and Serve" motto. It was always about him. If the voters hadn't thrown him out of office when they did, you can bet the abuse of power would have escalated.

  • At 2/16/2006 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Since Stoffregen was not convicted on felony charges, he is still eligible to run for Sheriff again in the future. Next time, it is no more Mr. Nice Guy!

  • At 2/16/2006 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So he's going to run again? I guess if he's not in prison, he might as well run for Sheriff!

  • At 2/16/2006 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A corrupt Sheriff, nooooooooo. Your're right, this guy got away easy. You or I, we go to the hole for a while.

  • At 2/16/2006 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At least he didn't shoot anybody with the gun he lifted. Maybe he could work that into a campaign slogan.

  • At 2/17/2006 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is more a function of the Commonwealth's Attorney's office doing him a political favor and keeping the issue as low profile as possible. He is not the only recent law enforcement officer in NOVA to enter into such an agreement. Officer Hoffman of the Haymarket Police Department entered into a similar agreement in the Fairfax General District Court to avoid prosecution on illegal gambling charges. Unlike the Sheriff this guy then tried to make it appear the charges had been dismissed and that he had thus been unfairly terminated by his department. These two share a common trait, they truly believe they are above the law and that because they are/were law enforcement officers they are entitled to a different standard of treatment.

  • At 2/17/2006 10:54 AM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    thanks for the post, sounds as if you're very familiar with this situation

  • At 2/17/2006 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When public officials break the law we should not be surprised. But when public officials break the law, get caught and still get away with it, the result is that our American way of life is cheapened just a little bit more and we take a step towards going the way of all other "past" great civilizations.

  • At 2/23/2006 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It would be equally interesting to have someone investigate the "Special Prosesecutor" investigations of "high profile" relatives of those in power in Rockingham County and in Harrisonburg...and compare those conviction rates and sentences with the normal average for those charged with similar offenses.

    * Current Mayor's Son - drug charges.
    * Current Sheriff's Son - predicate felon - new theft and drug charges.
    * Current state senator's wife on Electorial Board and Chairman of the 26th District concurrently.
    * Commonwealth Attorney's relatives, assault charges.

    No problems around here.

  • At 6/21/2018 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    See the Appendix for the applicable provisions of the law, Section 709(c) of Title VII, as well as the applicable regulations, Sections 1602.7-1602.14, Chapter XIV, Title 29 from the Code of Federal Regulations. Local and state governments, school systems and academic institutions are handled by other employment surveys and are excluded from Standard Form 100, Employer Information Report EEO-1.

    More: eeo-1 form 100


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