Below is a letter just received from Sheriff Mike Chapman, in response to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman’s letter issued yesterday.
In addition to the fact that Chapman was able to fire off such a comprehensive reply in such a short time, what follows is worth reading for two more reasons. First, this is a unique public argument, between our sheriff and chief prosecutor.
But more importantly, Chapman’s letter addresses ongoing controversial issues (including some touched on in yesterday’s post here), with surprising frankness: quite a departure from the typical euphemistic official-speak we are accustomed to hearing from elected officials.
If you want an unvarnished view of matters of serious disagreement between the sheriff and Plowman – and the challenger, Eric Noble – touching on politics, policy and ethics … here it is.
April 27, 2015
Today Commonwealth Attorney Jim Plowman distributed a letter containing false statements to help Mr. Noble win the Republican nomination. His motive is clear and he offers no facts. He simply wants a puppet for sheriff. Here is the real evidence:
Fiction: Mr. Plowman claims that my federal background did not prepare me for my position as Sheriff.
Fact: My background includes over 10 years in local law enforcement (7 with the Howard County, MD Police Department and over 3 with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office); 23 as a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) where I worked daily with local counterparts across the United States as well as internationally; and 3 as a law enforcement Subject Matter Expert with Booz Allen and Hamilton. I have been in leadership roles for 20 years. My law enforcement background is more diverse and comprehensive than most major city police chiefs and I represent Loudoun County as a Major County Sheriff.
Fiction: Mr. Plowman attributes the Asset Forfeiture embezzlement scandal to the LCSO under my watch.
Fact: Local Asset Forfeitures are a joint process between the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the LCSO. Prior to 2008, it had a separation of duties in which the Treasurer’s Office held monies seized.
In 2008, under Sheriff Simpson and Mr. Plowman, that process was changed. The County Treasurer was removed from oversight and a single detective was designated to process all seizures and deposit all money. This eliminated checks and balances – enabling the opportunity for corruption.
From 2008 on, monies were stolen regularly from the account totaling over $230,000. The vast majority occurring while Mr. Plowman and Sheriff Simpson were in office and while Mr. Plowman had an active role in asset forfeitures. This occurred before I took office and initiated a management action that ultimately uncovered it.
In reviewing numerous unprocessed seized assets (to include many vehicles that had remained dormant for years), I asked (in January 2014) that our detectives clear the backlog. Months before the theft was disclosed, Mr. Plowman specifically asked that I NOT move the asset forfeiture detective now under investigation, as he was an indispensable part of the asset forfeiture process. In late October 2014, I was notified by our budget manager that $34K had been stolen from the account by this detective after he had been given a transfer notice. I immediately notified the Virginia State Police (VSP) and asked them to conduct an independent investigation. The VSP was later joined by the FBI.
I also asked my budget manager if she was aware of any other stolen money. She advised that in September 2014, the detective responsible for making deposits made a deposit of $16K only after a notice to return these funds to the defendant was delivered. The money should have been deposited years earlier. She also she reported it to her boss, Major Noble, as well as to a supervisory detective. Mr. Noble denied hearing about this, and the supervisory detective never reported it up the chain of command. Both were disciplined for not properly documenting and reporting the incident.
The FBI investigation continues and the detective allegedly responsible for the theft was placed on administrative leave and eventually resigned many months ago. Working with our Investigative division, budget personnel, and the Treasurer’s Office, I have ensured that the Asset Forfeiture process now has a clear separation of duties and proper oversight. This will not happen again.
Fiction: Somehow I am responsible for an increase in heroin deaths in Loudoun County.
Fact: Heroin deaths have doubled nationwide over the past two years. Loudoun County’s statistics are similar to national averages. DEA has stated that heroin is the Nation’s number one drug problem.
Seeing an uptick in this problem years ago, and seeing red flags in the way our narcotics unit focused almost exclusively on street level marijuana cases, I restructured our efforts to attack both street level violators and distributors who were literally killing members of our community. By working with task force partners, we have identified or arrested major drug distributors from New York to Baltimore, including one who was responsible for at least one of Loudoun’s heroin deaths.
Our relationships with our counterparts have never been better. Leveraging these relationships enables us to work cases at a far deeper level than simple street buys, provides us access to databases we’d never have, and recently enable us to make the largest drug bust in Loudoun’s history (over 5lbs of cocaine, heroin, MDMA, and other drugs). It would have taken us thousands of street buys under my opponent’s enforcement philosophy of isolation to achieve what we did with a single case by working closely with our counterparts.
Additionally, I am working in partnership with Congresswoman Comstock on the Heroin Operations Team “HOT” initiative. This is a coordinated effort involving enforcement, education and treatment from a variety of stakeholders, including the community. Our actions to date (first quarter of 2015), have shown a 50% decrease in heroin deaths with overdoses down at least 25%. Success requires addressing this comprehensively, not simply through arrests – and we are doing just that.
Fiction: Mr. Noble’s resume makes him an ideal candidate for Sheriff.
Fact: Mr. Noble’s experience is limited within the Sheriff’s Office and to Loudoun County only. He has never been a detective, never worked narcotics, never taken executive leadership training (with the exception of attending the National Academy); and his education and experience would not qualify him for most mid-sized police chief jobs in the Country.
In comparison, I have a Master’s in Public Administration, a BS in Business Management, have 24 years of investigative experience (local, national and international), and have graduated from the National Sheriff’s Institute, the FBI’s Executive Leadership School, the Virginia Sheriff’s Institute, the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association School, and the VA Department of Criminal Justice’s Executive Leadership School. Tactically, I received SWAT certification (Baltimore County), counter-sniper certification (US Army, Ft. Meade, MD) and was certified as a Raid and Defensive Tactics instructor for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Fiction: Mr. Noble is a pro-active leader with a far better grasp on local law enforcement.
Fact: During his three years on my executive staff, Mr. Noble never offered a single suggestion or innovative idea to help move the LCSO forward. Instead, he utilized his position, almost immediately after I had promoted him in 2012, to publicly criticize and attack me and executive members of his own administration through cowardly, anonymous blogs and destructive emails. Despite his relentless efforts to undermine this administration’s success, the LCSO, under my administration, has a record rate of crime reduction (18% in three years), returned over $4.5M to the County budget office, and achieved it highest rate of customer satisfaction at 91.5%.
Fiction: Mr. Noble will take us forward.
Fact: Mr. Noble will take us BACKWARDS.
He believes making more arrests is what Loudoun citizens want. I disagree.
I believe citizens expect more than that from our Sheriff’s Office. We have become a national leader in Crisis Intervention Training (to deescalate potentially volatile situations – a solution to a law enforcement problem we are seeing nationwide); an internationally recognized leader in internet safety training for children and adults; and a leader in drug prevention and awareness by expanding DARE to middle schools and by working with DEA to teach our parents about the status of drug use in Loudoun County. The reduction in crime has resulted in our arrest numbers going down. This is simply SMART policing!
Loudoun County is also one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, is increasingly becoming diverse, handles 70% of the world’s internet traffic, is 30 miles from Washington, DC, contains federal facilities and is next to an international airport. Loudoun is more likely to be the target of a terrorist attack than most locations in the US.
Mr. Noble’s security clearance was revoked on 10/1/14, a month before he officially retired, due to numerous, significant conduct and ethics violations. It is implausible he will ever gain another clearance. Can we afford to have a sheriff who cannot communicate with the FBI or other federal counterparts about potential terrorist threats BEFORE they occur?
Ladies and gentlemen, don’t be fooled by Mr. Plowman’s false statements. Mr. Plowman obviously wants to be Commonwealth Attorney and control the Sheriff’s Office. The person he supports, Mr. Noble, has no vision, plan or strategy and, with Mr. Plowman, has relied entirely on smear tactics throughout this campaign.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, under my administration, has provided you with unparalleled improvements and record levels of proactive, positive and efficient service. We cannot go backwards. It is critical that as Loudoun grows, law enforcement continues to move forward. Your vote for me as the Republican nominee will ensure just that.
Thank you in advance for your support and your vote on Saturday, May 2, 2014 at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn!
Incumbent, Republican Sheriff