BVBL has a new post up today (with video) showing Manassas Park City Attorney either lying or showing an incredible amount of ineptitude.
The background: Well before the June 2004 raid, Manassas Park officials had planned another raid on Rack ‘n’ Roll. In that raid, the city was going to use the informants it had working for it to “import” several drug dealers from nearby towns into the pool hall, then raid the pool hall and charge Ruttenberg with running an “open air drug market.” The city abandoned the raid when it learned that Ruttenberg had gotten wind of it. At the planning commission meeting last month, Crowhurst said he knew nothing about this operation. Yet five days earlier, the city of Manassas Park, whose legal team is headed up by Crowhurst, filed a brief in federal court acknowledging that very operation. You’d think that as city attorney, Crowhurst would be aware of the content in the city’s federal court filings, wouldn’t you?
The key here is that the Manassas Park City Attorney is saying that he hadn’t heard anything about importing drug dealers from Dumfries into Rack n’ Roll in order to conduct drug deals with undercover operatives, and that the ABC hearing commissioner “certainly hadn’t given it any merit, because it wasn’t ruled on.” You’d think that a City Attorney wouldn’t tell the Planning Commission things that he certainly should have known were not true. (For a detailed discussion of this incident, click here.)
On September 5th, the City of Manassas Park filed a brief with the 4th Circuit where not only does it admit that this operation happened, but goes into some detail about how and why it did, although it clearly mis-characterizes the actions of David Ruttenberg. Now how does Dean Crowhurst say he “hasn’t seen anything to support that claim” to the planning commission when the city filed a brief not only supporting that claim but confirming it five days before he made these statements? You can either conclude that City Attorney Dean Crowhurst is either terrifically uninformed about the very recent legal positions the city has taken, or he’s telling the planning commission a deliberate lie.
Of course, the city also admitted in its latest brief to the federal appeals court that David Ruttenberg has long been the subject of various drug investigations, a fact the city had to that point denied.
Here’s what I think is happening: I think the city has two sets of facts that it draws upon, depending on its audience and forum. Never mind that the two sets are often contradictory. If the city is attempting to paint David Ruttenberg as a drug fiend, for example, city officials helpfully note that Ruttenberg has over the years been the subject of numerous drug investigations (never mind that they’ve yet to find any evidence to back up these accusations). But if the city is defending accusations that the city was framing Ruttenberg or conspiring against him because it had designs on the property his business occupied, city officials deny they’ve ever subjected Ruttenberg to such set-ups or stings, and instead try to portray Ruttenberg as some sort of paranoid conspiracy theorist.
Another example: When the city was trying to convince city council members, ABC officers, or the town’s planning commission that Ruttenberg was operating a filthy bar, they showed them photos of naked and nude women allegedly snapped at Rack ‘n’ Roll, or at least mentioned the existence of such photos. But when refuting the charge that city officials are corrupt and conniving, the city denies said photos exist, in order to hide the fact that they were staged and taken by the city’s former vice mayor.
I’ll have more on the latter in a bit.
Crowhurst and Manassas Park are counting on Ruttenberg and his lawyers being too stupid, too scared, and/or too overwhelmed by the extraordinary amount of information available in this case to be able to recognize when a set of facts the city introduced into evidence in one forum directly contradicts what they’re claiming in another.
I think they’ve miscalculated on Ruttenberg. Whether or not officials on the planning commission, at the Virginia ABC, or the justices in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit allow themselves to be duped remains to be seen.