Complete Indictment Against Page County Sheriff Daniel Presgraves (PDF)
Acting U.S. Attorney Julie Dudley's Press Release on the Indictments Against Daniel Presgraves (PDF)
Acting U.S. Attorney Julie Dudley's Press Release on the Indictments Against Chester Fannon (PDF)
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Julie Dudley made the following statement Thursday at a press conference concerning indictments against Page County Sheriff Daniel Presgraves:
"Good afternoon. I am Julie Dudley, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. Thank you all for being here.
"Before we get started I would like to introduce several members of the law enforcement community whose agents played critical roles in investigating the cases you will soon hear about. I am honored to be joined here today by the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division, Jennifer Smith Love, the Special Agent in Charge for the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division, Andre Martin and the Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Region for the Department of Agriculture, Brian L. Haaser. I am also pleased to be joined by members of our prosecution team, Criminal Chief of the Western District of Virginia, Thomas Bondurant and Assistant United States Attorney Zach Lee.
"Public service is a public trust and those who are elected to public office are held to the highest legal, moral and ethical standards. It’s what we all want and what we all expect. It’s a very sad day when we have to stand before you to report that a federal grand jury has found sufficient cause to return an indictment against an elected public official. Such action signals a violation of what we all hold sacred, the trust we put in our elected officials to do on a daily basis what is just, proper and lawful.
"Yesterday, a Federal Grand Jury sitting in Abingdon, Virginia returned a 22-count indictment which charged Page County Sheriff Daniel W. Presgraves with committing a variety of criminal acts which, if proven, constitute serious abuses of his power as Sheriff and a violation of the trust placed in him by the citizens of Page County.
"Early this morning, Sheriff Presgraves was arrested at his home in Luray by Federal Agents. He will appear before magistrate Judge B. Waugh Crigler later this afternoon.
"The investigation into the alleged criminal activity of Sheriff Presgraves began when an informant came forward with information that suggested the Sheriff was taking bribes from the operators of a Page County cockfighting pit known as Little Boxwood. As many of you are aware, the operators of that cockfighting pit have already been charged; some have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. One remains on bond awaiting trial.
"As a result of this information, an undercover agent from the United States Department of Agriculture was introduced to individuals associated with the cockfighting pit, playing the role of a potential purchaser of Little Boxwood.
"During his undercover work, the agent expressed concern to the operators of the cockfighting pit about the potential for law enforcement to interfere with the operation of Little Boxwood. However, the agent was assured that if he made a $500 donation to an associate of Sheriff Presgraves, who in turn would give the money to the Sheriff, there would be no interference from local law enforcement.
"According to the indictment, Presgraves was aware of the cockfighting pit and, by allegedly taking bribes and steering law enforcement away from it, was a member of the conspiracy that kept Little Boxwood in operation.
"Alone, the allegation that an elected official took bribes from the operators of an illegal cockfighting pit is a serious claim. However, bribes were just the tip of the iceberg; just the outer layer of broader criminal conduct uncovered throughout the course of this investigation.
"As can be gleaned from the indictment, Mr. Presgraves engaged in a pattern of sexual assault, sexual harassment, money laundering, witness intimidation, acts of dishonesty and obstruction of justice.
"Included in the indictment are charges that Sheriff Presgraves abused his power over 12 female subordinate employees by verbally and physically sexually harassing and sexually assaulting them. All of the victims were employees of the Page County Sheriff’s Office when this conduct occurred.
"The indictment further charges him with multiple counts of obstruction of justice which stem from the allegations by several victims that Sheriff Presgraves attempted to use his power and position to convince them not to speak with investigators and to refuse to appear before a Federal Grand Jury. Presgraves allegedly told his victims that whatever information they had about him that could be useful to the “Feds” should be taken “to the grave.”
"In addition to the bribes Sheriff Presgraves allegedly took from the operators of Little Boxwood, he is also charged with taking bribes from a local corporation. The name of that corporation is not included in the indictment and will not be disclosed here today. These bribes included cash, gift cards, the use of earth moving machines and free labor for his personal use.
"In exchange for these gifts, the indictment charges that Sheriff Presgraves made a pledge to officials from the corporation that he would tip them off about any investigations by law enforcement into their dealings. The indictment states that he also promised to use his power as Sheriff to intimidate witnesses planning to cooperate with any investigations into the corporation.
"The indictment charges Sheriff Presgraves with diverting large amounts of revenue received by the Page County Sheriff’s Office into an escrow account over which he, rather than the County Treasurer, had control. Specifically, the sheriff’s office received $39,000 from the United States Customs Service and $47,000 from PayTel, a company contracted to install payphones at the Page County Jail.
"Between 2001 and 2004, over $100,000 in cash was deposited and unlawfully structured into personal checking accounts associated with Sheriff Presgraves. To avoid having the requisite Currency Transaction Reports filed with the banks, Presgraves never deposited more than $10,000 cash during any one transaction.
"One of Sheriff’s Presgraves’ duties as the top law enforcement official in the county is the supervision of the Page County Jail, its employees and inmates. This investigation revealed multiple instances where the Sheriff abused the power he held over some of the inmates housed at the Page County Jail.
"The indictment charges that on multiple occasions, Sheriff Presgraves, and others acting at his direction transported inmates from the Page County Jail to the Presgraves’ private residence or to other properties in which he or his family had a vested financial interest, for the purpose of performing personal work.
"To ensure certain inmates were not transferred from the Page County Jail, Presgraves allegedly contacted the Virginia Department of Corrections on multiple occasions and convinced officials with that agency that these inmates should remain under his custody. Presgraves did not disclose to the Virginia Department of Corrections that these particular inmates were performing personal work for him or his family.
"These various allegations of criminal activity uncovered during this time consuming and thorough investigation were presented to the Grand Jury and the Grand Jury has returned this indictment.
"It is imperative that the men and women of Page County and all across the Commonwealth of Virginia know that the people trusted to enforce our local, state and federal laws are doing so in a fair and responsible manner. They must know that their elected officials are being held to the highest legal and ethical standards. And they must know that when even high ranking members of the law enforcement community are accused of breaking the law, they will be prosecuted.
"I am proud of all the men and women from the FBI, IRS, the Department of Agriculture, the Virginia State Police and any other agencies that aided in the investigation into this matter.
"In a separate indictment returned yesterday this week and unsealed this morning, a Federal Grand Jury has charged Chester William Fannon III and the Virginia Gamefowl Breeders Association were indicted on charges related to conspiracy, making false statements and money laundering.
"Investigation into Fannon, the president of the VGBA, revealed that he was allegedly making campaign contributions to candidates for public office on behalf of the VGBA. Fannon would make contributions using his personal funds and later be reimbursed by the VGBA, a violation of federal law.
"These contributions were made to candidates the VGBA felt would work to repeal laws making it illegal to engage in cockfighting or at least fight laws that would enhance the penalties for participating in cockfighting.
"Fannon is accused of making over $11,000 of illegal contributions to various candidates on behalf of the VGBA."