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Purcellville town manager on leave; McAlister attorney lampoons town investigation

Facebook/Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser
Update: Nov. 21, 3:30 p.m

The Town of Purcellville issued a statement at 3:07 p.m. Tuesday confirming Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an independent administrative investigation.

The town, according to the statement, is in the process of retaining an independent investigator to conduct an audit and investigation of actions taken by Vanegas over the last several months.

“As soon as possible, we will be bringing on a paid professional to serve as the Interim Town Manager," Mayor Kwasi Fraser said in a prepared statement. "This individual will work with the department heads, management team and staff to keep the Town moving in a forward direction."

Fraser said Hooper McCann, the town's director of administration, will serve as interim town manager until a new interim town manager is appointed.


Original story: Nov. 21, 2:22 p.m.

The attorney representing former Purcellville Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister in her termination grievance process against the town says he has “never seen an investigation so poorly done by a local government or police department” in his more than 18 years working with law enforcement departments and government agencies.

McAlister was fired Nov. 2 following an investigation that claimed she acted outside the scope of her duties and ran afoul of town policies and procedures, among other violations. That investigation was conducted by a private human resources investigator, Georgia Nuckolls.

On Sunday, Purcellville town officials revealed Nuckolls had numerous criminal convictions in the 1990s and was also carrying on a relationship with a town employee involved in the investigation against McAlister. Nuckolls' convictions in North Carolina in 1997 included felony financial card fraud, felony financial card theft, forgery of instrument and common law forgery.

John. V. Berry of Berry & Berry, chief counsel for McAlister, told the Times-Mirror today “the unfolding events in this case are very troubling and cause great concern regarding the validity of the investigative process as well as the potential motives of Mr. Alexander Vanegas and Ms. Georgia Nuckolls.”

Vanegas was the acting interim town manager who hired Nuckolls for the investigation. He is currently on leave, according to a town employee who answered the general phone line Tuesday.

When asked who was running the town, the town employee said, “the mayor, probably.”

Mayor Kwasi Fraser has not returned numerous requests for comment since Monday morning.

Berry said “McAlister was terminated without due process,” and he is “confident the claims made against Chief McAlister will be shown to be without merit.”

“The investigation clearly did not follow standard law enforcement procedures,” Berry said. “In my over 18 years of working with numerous police departments in the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area and other government agencies I have never seen an investigation so poorly done by a local government or police department.”

Berry said the town “would be wise to reinstate Chief McAlister, if she is willing to return.”

Through a Freedom of Information Act request Monday, the Times-Mirror learned that Fraser on Sunday contacted Loudoun County Supervisor Tony Buffington (R) and County Administrator Tim Hemstreet to request the county's assistance with “two strong managers with human resources and project management background during this period of operational change.” Purcellville requested county personnel for the next two months.

The mayor has also asked for additional support for the Purcellville Police Department to be considered.

Comments


The members of the Council were all to busy trolling each other on twitter and tweeting about how horrible the country is to notice that their town was falling apart.

Nobody is going to die if the County doesn’t bail this council out. They want the help from the County to save face. This isn’t a reason for the rest of the residents of Loudoun to have to pay for their mistakes. If they want County help, they should all resign and let Buffington take charge of the town until new elections can be held. If they don’t, let them crumble under their own incompetence. I don’t want a penny of my County tax dollars to go to saving their reputations.

When you elect Twitter trolls to run your town, this is what you get.


From the very beginning when the former Town Manager separated from the town is when the motion of chaotic events started in Purcellville. The problems started soon after that, based on the Mayor and Council lacked the leadership skills to handle any forthcoming controversies that required delicate handling. Just because you get elected as Mayor or Council doesn’t make you smarter. The elected body in Purcellville has let their citizens down and when this happens it will be very hard for them to gain that trust back. I knew right from the time that they paraded the police officers to the front of a council right after the Chiefs suspension/departure this was going to be a problem. It was unprofessional and ill advised. If you want to be seen as a professional Mayor and Council then you need to act like one. This mess will not just stop with Vanegas being placed on leave because the Mayor and Council are still holding their seats.


“Both Nuckolls(or whatever her name will be in the future/past) and Vargas should/will be indicted, and hopefully fined $500K each and put in jail for 5-10 years minimum. I dislike scam artists.”

more cowbell that’s a big assumption. Please tell me what criminal law they violated or can even be charged with at this time. As far as we know the investigation that was conducted is valid.

I love to rush to throw out the results based on one person’s past and a relationship that two people had. I’ll admit that things don’t look very good but as I stated earlier there was an independent HR Attorney involved that upheld all the findings of the investigation.

And just to be clear there were 7 counts reportedly sustained against the former Chief, including untruthfulness and violation of town policy and General Orders.


It would be nice to know what the exact issues are with why Police Chief was let go?

“she acted outside the scope of her duties and ran afoul of town policies and procedures, among other violations.”

What the F? I know many corrupt politicians that do that daily.

Both Nuckolls(or whatever her name will be in the future/past) and Vargas should/will be indicted, and hopefully fined $500K each and put in jail for 5-10 years minimum. I dislike scam artists.


I am sure if we get the remaining staff together and all 4 of them sit down with Ryan cool and Karen Jimmerson we could get a great fact sheet that outlines how this was a problem before current council took office.


Seems like a premature statement from McAlister’s attorney. If the investigation was “unprofessional” and is “invalid” the audit which the town is calling for will reveal that. Calling for her to be re-instated now is putting the cart before the horse, IMHO.

Let’s not forget there was also a HR Attorney involved in this investigation, that strangely enough nobody seems to care about, that validated the investigations findings before they were presented to the council.

Let’s see how this all plays out after the outside investigator reviews the file and makes a decision. If the investigation is bunk then McAlister is vindicated ,,, if it is found to be valid then she still has a reckoning coming.


Kwasi you are incompetent, please save us further embarrassment and resign now.


You can’t fix stupid! smh


I’m not a P’ville resident, but I have to ask. Did Fraser run unopposed or was his opponent an axe murderer?  This guy clearly couldn’t run a two person parade, let alone a town!


“The mayor has also asked for additional support for the Purcellville Police Department….”

I hope support doesn’t include Sheriff Mike Chapman. Based on their Facebook accounts, Ms. Nuckolls and Sheriff Chapman seem VERY close.


The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round…


Why did it take so ling to put Vanegas on Leave? How much damage did he do from Saturday to today? Most Companies escort the employee out the building right away. Why did this not happen? Bright move Mayor. If you are running the town now, we are in a heap of trouble. Please call the council for advise! NOT!
Kwasi is spineless and not a leader! Vote him out in May!

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