Purcellville Town Council for Editorial

Members of the previous Purcellville Town Council – many of whom still serve on the body – accepted a report critical of Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister in fall 2017. The council members voted no confidence in the chief, and she was fired. The initial report was later found to be substantially flawed, according to an independent review. McAlister has been reinstated.

Where do we start?

That's what quickly comes to mind when reflecting on the pathetic and embarrassing debacle that has consumed Purcellville government for more than two years.

The CliffsNotes: After the former Town Council pushed out the well-respected town manager and passed over the obvious successor in favor of their preferred puppet, chaos ensued.

That chaos included said puppet, former interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas, launching a bogus investigation against Purcellville Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister. The inquiry was pre-determined. Its end game? Oust McAlister.

And it almost worked – only people started asking questions. What exactly were these acts of malfeasance for which McAlister was fired? Will a report on the investigation be made public? Who conducted the probe?

We soon learned the answer to that last question was Georgia Nuckolls, a self-styled human resources professional with a criminal past and ties to convicted felon Brian Reynolds, the ex-publisher of the now-defunct Loudoun Tribune and a former political operative for Sheriff Mike Chapman and previous county Chairman Scott York. Reynolds is currently in prison awaiting sentencing for new federal fraud convictions unrelated to the Purcellville fiasco.

The Nuckolls investigation was eventually proven to be a sham following an audit from an independent law firm. (This time real professionals handled the task.) McAlister, who was forced to endure a very public and very humiliating firing from council members in on the plan, was eventually rehired, but not before costs for new investigations, attorneys' fees and town workers on paid leave mounted. We can easily say the former council's missteps have cost the small town $1 million. The final price tag – lawsuits are in progress – will likely be tens of thousands, if not millions, more.

Amid the investigations you had people like Mayor Kwasi Fraser and council members Nedim Ogelman and Ryan Cool condemning the media for reporting the goings-on. “Hatchet job,” Ogelman said in an email to the Times-Mirror. Indeed, the blame-the-media sentiment is alive and well among certain factions of council. For the sake of the town, we hope rumors that Ogelman and Cool won't seek re-election are true.

Mayor Fraser, meanwhile, continues to skirt any real accountability for his role in the mess. The mayor is too busy finding another “monetizing assets” scheme to botch.

Former council members Karen Jimmerson and Kelly Grim swiftly skipped town as the plan began to unravel. How convenient.

So what's the latest? Last week we learned nearly 2,000 people's private information – Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, medical records – may have been compromised during the Vanegas-Nuckolls plot. A letter was recently sent to people who may be at risk, and that notification quickly circulated on social media, with people outwardly wondering whether it was real or a scam.

(The Times-Mirror had heard of a potential data breach in late 2017, yet when we asked Fraser, he denied it. Hubris can be a dangerous thing.)

In searching for dashes of optimism, Purcellville at least has new council members like Tip Stinnette and Joel Grewe pressing for answers.

“Does this breach qualify as a criminal act, and what are the options for that?” Grewe asked during a Saturday emergency meeting, which was sparked by the uproar over the notification letters. “Why did it take the amount of time it did for the letter to come out?”

Stinnette acknowledged the town's handling of the letters should have been better communicated.

Grewe, Stinnette and Councilman Ted Greely should be commended for stepping up when their town needed honest and open leadership. We hope more people like them will do the same in next spring's election.

In the meantime, we'll continue to chip away at the “why” of this whole thing. And yes, we expect to be harangued for doing so.

(7) comments

Me

Wow. This article is painfully biased. Clearly the political opinions of the Times-Mirror's don't align with those of the Town of Purcellville's voters. #sorelosers

ace10

It's not an article. The headline makes it clear that this is an opinion piece. "Editorial: A long way from over in Purcellville"

IQuilt

Mayor Frazer, Do you still deny the data breach?

And so far, what is the total cost of this entire mess?

rescue141

A pretty good accurate description of how the town of Purcellville has been ruined by those individuals. The beginning was when Kelly Grim railroaded the best town manager that Purcellville has ever had Robert Lohr out of office! And it all went downhill after that. But, there are some citizens of Purcellville that have to take some responsibility for this because they voted for these individuals. I can only hope that by the next election, we have some qualified individuals to run for these offices and the citizens who voted for the former ones remember the damage that has been done to this town.

RandomName2019

Given the ineptitude shown by Purcellville (which is not unique to them, and in fact seems endemic to small town governance) and the mounting costs they're inflicting on their residents, why have they not begun exploring a pathway towards unincorporating the town and handing services over to Loudoun County?

Representing the Mambo

Don't forget John Whitbeck!!! He was Brian Reynolds attorney on some of his criminal matters and was also the attorney on the initial Purcellville investigation, and I believe he was involved in the Loudoun Tribune. There are e-mails between him and Georgia 'AKA Theadora' Nuckolls, one in particular, in which Nucholls tells Whitbeck to "take VERY good care" of two of the other conspirators (dated 11/5/17).There is another e-mail between Nuckolls and former Town Manager Alex Venagas, where she tells him that Sheriff Chapman "is on board" with everything and she would call him up to fill him in on details. Whitbeck just ran for the BOS with Sheriff Mike Chapman as his wingman. In another e-mail between convicted con man Brian Reynolds (acting in his capacity as the editor of the scam paper Loudoun Tribune) and Mayor Frasier, Reynolds advised that he discussed the police issues with Chapman and he was willing to help out. He also provided Chapman's personal cell#. Reynolds is a convicted felon/con man, who is currently awaiting sentencing for his latest scam involving the Loudoun Tribune.He was also Chapman's campaign manager/advisor. It is pretty disturbing that this con man was discussing police related business and giving advise to Chapman on a regular basis. Sheriff Chapman introduced Reynolds to many people who subsequently invested in the Loudoun Tribune. These "investors" are now referred to as "victims", who were bilked out of thousands of dollars. Sheriff Chapman had his hand in this. He saw an opportunity for a power grab and to retaliate against Chief McCallister for going against his wishes and hiring a former LCSO deputy that he was trying to blackball from law enforcement. Chapman, Whitbeck, Nuckolls, Reynalds...their names keep turning up in all sorts of schemes. Sounds like the makings of a criminal conspiracy to me, and should be investigated.

RoundHillGuy

Purcellville has the government they voted for, and re-elected. you reap what you sow.

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