A felony charge of obtaining money by false pretenses against a Ruckersville business owner was dropped the same day he was scheduled for trial —only to be re-charged on insurance fraud less than a week later.
Prosecutors allege that Anthony Keith Lawson, 53, who owns KELCAM Tire & Auto attempted to wrongly obtain more than $500 from Farm Bureau Insurance by inflating the number of hours worked. Lawson was slated for a three-day trial beginning Aug. 6. However, errors in the original indictment led prosecutors to drop the charge.
Allison Martin and Ramin Fatehi, special prosecutors in the case, made a motion less than 10 days before the trial to amend the indictment after noticing the errors. The commonwealth requested five different amendments on Aug. 6, including changing the date of the offense from May 29, 2018 to a range of dates from May 29 through July 30, 2018; adding Mossy Creek as a victim; and fixing two typographical errors.
Lawson’s attorney, Scott Puryear, argued in court last Tuesday that the indictment brought against Lawson was “fatally flawed,” adding that the commonwealth could not get a conviction on the current indictment.
“We concede that the indictment is wrong in many ways, hence the motion,” Fatehi said in court, noting that the errors were “something that escaped notice.”
“There are so many new amendments that it might as well be a new indictment,” Puryear argued. “What the commonwealth is asking the court to do is be a grand jury.”
Greene County Circuit Court Judge Claude Worrell sided with the defense on the matter, citing that each amendment on its own would be OK, but all five together made it an indictment that the grand jury didn’t get to consider.
The commonwealth dropped the Aug. 13, 2018 original indictment, but brought forth a revised felony indictment of insurance fraud six days later that was certified by a Greene County grand jury. Martin and Fatehi entered an order to remain special prosecutors in the matter. As of press time, Lawson’s court appearance on the insurance fraud charge had not been scheduled.