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Augusta County Sheriff addresses video he says is part of a smear campaign

Screenshot of ACSO Facebook page. | Credit: Augusta County Sheriff's Office.
Screenshot of ACSO Facebook page. | Credit: Augusta County Sheriff's Office.(WHSV)
Published: Aug. 23, 2019 at 5:15 PM EDT
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Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith posted an anonymous video on Facebook this week that Smith said was part of a smear campaign against him ahead of the upcoming election in November.

The video draws connections between Smith and

that took place in 2015 by using court records.

The video alleged that Smith had lied to investigators, obstructed justice and attempted to interfere with the investigation, which

for Maria Rosalba Alvarado, former owner of Inca's Secret Shop in Harrisonburg, and her son, Felix Adriano Chujoy.

Sheriff Smith said in a public Facebook post from the Augusta County Sheriff's Office page that he met Felix Chujoy in 2010 while they were both enrolled in college and working out in Harrisonburg, and the two became close friends.

When Chujoy and his mother were arrested, Smith says he was in contact with him through letters and phone calls. He agreed to keep up with Chujoy's bills while he was in jail and offered him a cell phone to use when he was released.

The video alleges that the letters and calls were deceptive and used to interfere with the investigation.

However, Smith says he was just helping out a friend in a time of need.

It is unclear who actually made the video. Smith said in a press release that it was given to him, and it was supposed to be released closer to the election to sway voters.

Smith also stated that similar allegations against him were brought up during his first campaign for sheriff, and when he explained facts, with documentation, about what happened, reporters decided not to move forward with a story about the claims.

He decided to release the video himself and addressed the accusations, he says, as an effort to be transparent.

"He came to me in his time of need and asked me for help and I did what I felt was the right thing," Smith concludes in his statement. "I could have easily turned my back on him because of my position. However, I have helped countless people in their time of need, and if I had it to do all over again, I would have handled this the exact same way. . . Do not fall for dirty politics and this smear campaign."

From the Sheriff's Desk

Over the past few weeks, I have been told by community members that there is “A big announcement that will end the sheriff coming out in October.” This morning I was sent this video, which has since been hidden from the public on YouTube. In an effort to be transparent as your Sheriff, I am releasing the video and will address these absolutely false accusations. How do I know Felix Chujoy Felix and I met in 2010 when I was training and working out in Harrisonburg at a Crossfit Gym. We were both enrolled in college and often studied, went to the library, and computer lab together. Over several years, he and I became close friends and often hung out in our off time. December of 2014 and into 2015 Although I am not privy to the specifics of the case, it is my understanding that The Department of Homeland Security arrested Felix and his mother for Human Trafficking based on a complaint made from one of their cooks at their family owned restaurant in Harrisonburg, VA. I was never given all of the details of the investigation from the investigator or the US Attorney’s Office, but I did meet with them and provided them the information that I knew. I never obstructed justice, lied to investigators, or attempted to interfere with the investigation. Phone I did allow Felix to make several phone calls from my phone once he was initially released because he didn’t have a phone. Short answer, he asked to use my phone, and I handed it to him. I have no idea who he called or what he said. Furthermore, in the video, it refers to my parents. My mother allowed Felix to use her cell phone for several days until he could get his affairs in order, purchase a new phone, and then he gave it back. Letters Felix wrote me several letters while he was incarcerated asking me to keep his bills paid up so his credit wasn’t destroyed. In the letters, he provided passwords and security codes so I could access his bank account, credit cards, and debt information. Once I accessed the accounts, I had the information shredded to protect his personal information. The video claims that this was done to deceive the investigation and ultimately caused the trial to be moved. This is completely false and absolutely not true. I never obstructed justice, lied to investigators, or attempted to interfere with the investigation. Sheriff’s Election During the first election, one of my opponents gave this same story to the local media. I met with several of the reporters, explained the listed facts and provided them with the information. The reporters determined that I was not involved in the investigation, and they declined to print the story because I was not a target of the investigation and did not commit any crime. Looking Back Felix was my friend well before this incident took place and before I was the Sheriff of Augusta County. He came to me in his time of need and asked me for help and I did what I felt was the right thing. I could have easily turned my back on him because of my position. However, I have helped countless people in their time of need, and if I had it to do all over again, I would have handled this the exact same way. This video was posted on the web as a smear campaign due to this year’s sheriff’s election. It is my understanding, this was to be released closer to the election date to sway voters. As I said, I was never dishonest in any way. Do not fall for dirty politics and this smear campaign.

Posted by Augusta County Sheriff's Office - Sheriff Donald L. Smith on Thursday, August 22, 2019

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