President of a fire company sentenced in 2020 for making threats | News

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According to the articles of association of the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company, no person convicted of a “felony, infraction or violation of regulations” can be a member of the society. Last year, the organization’s vice president, Brandon Phelps, was convicted of threatening two other fire company volunteers. Phelps is now the president of the organization, according to the company’s personnel directory.

Phelps was also convicted in 2015 of drunk driving while he was vice president of the fire company. The organization’s bylaws state that members of the fire company who are charged with Class I or II felonies or misdemeanors must be placed on administrative leave while their charges are pending. Both of Phelps’ criminal convictions were for Class I misdemeanor charges.

The directors of the fire company did not answer questions from Fauquier time ask if Phelps has been put on administrative leave or been sanctioned in any way as a result of his convictions.

Phelps’ most recent conviction stems from an incident on March 8, 2020. Phelps texted two other members of the fire company, according to Warrenton Police Department investigation files obtained through a request under the Freedom of Information Act. “Once these cops find out, I’ll kill you,” the message read, according to the report filed after his arrest; Phelps apparently misspelled the word “leave”.

According to police documents, Phelps told two company volunteers via text message that the police had been called to his home. “Sir. Phelps … accused [the two volunteers] to call the police again, ”according to a police document, an assertion that the two volunteers denied. Police records do not indicate whether officers had in fact been called to Phelps’ residence before.

When Phelps was arrested and questioned in the wee hours of March 9, 2020, he reportedly denied sending threat messages. “[Phelps] again stated that he had no knowledge of what I was referring to, ”the Warrenton police officer said during the arrest in his report.

Police charged Phelps with two counts of threatening bodily harm, but he was ultimately convicted of a less serious charge: one count of Class I misdemeanor using threatening language to l using a phone. He was convicted on May 27, 2020 and sentenced to 60 days in prison – all suspended – and 12 months of supervised probation, according to public court records.

Phelps did not respond to a request for comment.

A 2015 conviction

In 2015, Phelps was convicted of drunk driving in Fauquier County, a Class I misdemeanor, and sentenced to 90 days – all suspended – as well as 12 months supervised probation and a fine. of $ 500, according to public court records. His driver’s license was also restricted for a year. He was arrested on December 26, 2014 and convicted on March 9, 2015.

The statutes of the fire company state: “Any member who is accused of a felony or a misdemeanor of class I or II while on or off duty shall be placed on administrative leave pending resolution of the charges. accusations. “

Another section of the statutes, titled “Criminal Record”, reads: “The following items disqualify all applicants or members. You may not have been convicted or convicted of any felony, infraction, or violation of regulations, or have participated in any other prohibited conduct identified in the Virginia Code and EMS regulations of the State 12VAC5-31-910.

The statutes were submitted by lawyers for the fire company this month as evidence for a court filing in an unrelated civil case. The document is dated May 14, 2018.

In response to a list of questions from Fauquier time, the Current WVFC Board of Directors on Monday released a broad statement that did not say whether the organization took action when Phelps was arrested and sentenced in 2015 and 2020.

“Personnel issues are dealt with quickly within the organization and, if necessary, returned to local law enforcement,” the statement said in part.

“Like any organization, there will be times when we have internal issues that do not align with our mission statement, our core values ​​and perhaps the general public expectations,” the statement said at another point. “We take this very seriously and are working diligently to resolve any potential issues quickly so that the good work of the majority of the membership can continue. “

Brett Hamby, a career firefighter in Prince William County who currently represents Ward 3 on Warrenton City Council, served as chairman of the fire company from 2012 to 2015, including when Phelps was arrested and convicted of driving in drunk. Hamby did not respond to a request for comment.

Jim Farkas, who took over from Hamby as the organization’s president and held the post until at least last year, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Annual Report from 2014 to 2020, Phelps roster as vice president, and the fire company personnel online directory listed him in that position until June 9 of this year, according to website archives. compiled by the Fauquier time.

By June 30, however, the staff directory had been updated to list Phelps as president of the organization, and the website still listed Phelps as president on Tuesday morning. A 2021 annual report has not yet been filed with the Crown Corporations Commission.

Additional legal dispute involving WVFC

Volunteer company Warrenton found itself embroiled in a legal battle last year against another, now a former volunteer firefighter, convicted of a criminal offense.

In 2018, an adult volunteer – Erick Lemus, then 22 – had sex with a 16-year-old girl enrolled in the organization’s “junior first responder program”.

Last October, the victim for follow-up the organization and several of its members for $ 2 million, alleging that company executives had taken no action to protect it and other underage volunteers and instead encouraged a “culture of adult men suing underage female volunteers ”.

Phelps is not named in the lawsuit. A test date has not yet been set.

Forced into sex at 16, woman sues Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company

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