Henry County Virginia Sheriff's Department Officials Alleged to Be Crooks!!!
Prosecutor declares: “Disgraceful corruption!”
20 Indicted Including 13 Current or Past Members of Sheriff Department…
Including… GASP… Sheriff Frank Cassell himself!
By now the news has hit the streets, in Henry County, the epicenter of the story, in Roanoke the home of the Poff Federal Courthouse, and throughout Virginia. The news was big enough that it was on the national network news before most Virginia news outlets had a bead on the story.
Readers of this blog are perhaps aware that the Iconoclast has an editorial policy of exposing the bad behavior of public officials as a way of educating others of the perils of such behavior. By doing so, we hope that in some small way public officials her in Virginia will hold themselves to higher standards when carrying out their public business.
This story is particularly depressing…
This is a story of a culture of corruption in the Henry County Sheriff’s Department in Henry County, Virginia.
Henry County is a good sized county in the far western part of Southside Virginia or maybe the eastern part of Southwest Virginia. It is perhaps best known for the City of Martinsville that is located in the center of the County. With a population of about 60 thousand, Henry is a significant population center. They have experienced economic problems in recent years and have been working hard to pull themselves up by the boot straps.
You can read more about Henry County by clicking here.
Yesterday, we learned that Henry County Sheriff Frank Cassel, and about a dozen other individuals currently or previously affiliated with the Sheriff’s department and another seven civilians were named in a 48- count indictment involving theft of impounded property, using and dealing with illegal drugs, trafficking in firearms, and abstruction of justice.
You can get the high (or low) points of this pathetic story from The Roanoke Times by clicking here.
Or, if you are a real glutton for punishment, you can read the 50 page Grand Jury indictment in all its inglorious detail.
Before going any further, the Iconoclast wishes to acknowledge that in America there is a presumption of innocence for all persons accused of a crime. That presumption applies here to Sheriff Cassell and his 19 co-defendants.
He and the rest will have their day in court. Given the potential consequences of lawmen and women being convicted of such serious crimes, I am sure that there will be a spirited defense effort put forward in the coming months.
It should also be mentioned that just because the Sheriff and quite a few of his Sheriff's Department personnel are facing indictments, it should not be construed that all of the Henry County Sheriff's Department personnel are crooks. The work of the Sheriff's Department must go on. Hopefully, the remaining organization is strong enough to pull itself together and move ahead with their responsibilities to the 60 thousand people of Henry County.
Having said that, a casual review of the indictment suggests that things do not look so good for the named defendants, considering that at least one is cooperating with the FBI and DEA.
The allegations if proven true are most egregious. Individuals who wear badges of authority… individuals who wear uniforms symbolizing the law and order… individuals who are sworn to protect and serve the citizens of their community… these individuals are now standing accused of committing some of the most dangerous and despicable crimes that can be imagined in any community… that being stealing dangerous contraband held in their own custody, and selling this contraband back on the streets to criminals. That contraband is alleged to include dangerous drugs (cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana) and guns.
What is the public to think when individuals sworn to uphold the law are seen to be the crooks?
What would possess any law enforcement official to betray the public trust?
If the allegations are proven against the Sheriff and the other members of the Sheriff’s Department, it won’t be the first time that members of the law enforcement community have crossed the line to become the crooks.
But what is so disturbing about this case is the large number of law enforcement officials who seem to be involved in the overall conspiracy.
Who else knew or suspected what was going on?
How long has this alleged corruption been going on?
How is it possible that so many people could be involved without others knowing about it?
What kind of “culture” was being maintained in the Henry County Sheriff’s Department?
Is this another example of corrupting nature of power?
Or is this just a pitiful betrayal of public trust and community safty for the money?
Chances are, when all is said and done, we will be able to look back and see that... yes... there were signs of problems that were ignored by people who should have known better.
Maybe we can learn something from this very depressing story as it unfolds.
NOTE: The photograph above is of Sheriff Frank Cassell as he is leaving the the Poff Federal Court Building in Roanoke. He doesn't look quite as impressive as he does in his official portrait for the Henry County Sheriff's Department Webpage.