Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office

Shown is the entrance to the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office.

The Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office and the Central Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force overseen by the Virginia State Police were investigated into allegations of corruption, conspiracy and obstruction of justice spanning three years, but no charges were filed, and the incidents were considered personnel matters, the Times Virginian discovered.

The investigation occurred between December and February after a now-former deputy of the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office was being investigated in December of last year into allegations of obstruction of justice. During that criminal investigation, the employee produced documentation alleging the misconduct of other employees of the sheriff’s office and the regional narcotics task force.

The Virginia State Police compiled “approximately 40,854 pages of documents and information, including, but not limited to, complaints, court orders, memoranda, notes, diagrams, maps, photographs, correspondence, reports, witness statements, and evidence” but declined to release any of the documents to the Times Virginian after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, citing Virginia Code Section §2.2-3706.

Section B of the statute gives law enforcement discretion in releasing criminal investigative files.

Amherst County Commonwealth’s Attorney W. Lyle Carver acknowledged last week that he was the special prosecutor in the investigation and stated that the “thorough investigation did not produce evidence to place criminal charges.”

“The criminal standard is proof beyond a reasonable doubt and at the end of it there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute anyone,” Carver stated.

Because the matter was considered a personnel matter, names of employees involved in the case were not disclosed, nor was a request to the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office for the number of employees involved revealed.

The Times Virginian questioned whether personnel were asked to retire or put on administrative leave during the investigation as one source claimed but could not confirm if this was the case. When questioned about this, Appomattox County Sheriff Donald Simpson confirmed that personnel changes were made but would not go into details.

As a result of the investigation, Simpson stated that he made other changes to the office as well. He was not the sheriff at the time of allegations as he assumed office in January. He previously was the chief deputy of the sheriff’s office and had worked at the sheriff’s office for 25 years.

“My goal when I took office, and my goal now, is to serve the citizens of Appomattox County to the best of my abilities and to move this office forward,” Simpson said in a statement. “Since January I have made personnel changes, policy changes and operational changes to ensure the deputies of the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office honor their oath of office, the law enforcement oath of honor and our mission statement.”

When the investigation began in December, Barry Letterman was the outgoing sheriff due to retirement. He had announced his retirement in February 2019, 10 months before the investigation, so there is no indication that he was made aware of employee misconduct at that time.

There’s more to this story in the current issue of the Times Virginian newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.timesvirginian.com/subscriber_services to view the full article in the e-edition version.