Federal charges of identity theft and conspiracy to commit identity theft were filed last week against the recently re-elected Greene County Commissioner of Revenue and his son.
The charges were handed down in an Oct. 23 sealed indictment. They were unsealed last week, which led Orange County prosecutors to suspend more than a dozen similar charges filed in state courts last Friday.
According to U.S District Court records, the charges against Larry Vernon Snow and his son Bryant Austin Snow are one count of conspiracy and two counts of identity theft.
Last Friday, federal agents sought a court order to bring Bryant Snow into the federal court for a Nov. 15 hearing on the charges.
The younger Snow is currently in the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange County serving time for a probation violation and one year of a 13-year sentence after pleading guilty to selling heroin. The other 12 years were suspended.
Larry Snow was re-elected as the county commissioner of revenue in the Nov. 5 general election; the only one on the ballot. His challenger Peggy Ganoe withdrew from the election prior to Election Day. There were 99 write-in votes. Snow was first elected to the position in 1987.
The indictments by Greene County and Orange County courts are being suspended in favor of the federal charges, Ray B. Fitzgerald, deputy Orange County Commonwealth’s Attorney wrote in a letter to court clerks.
The move follows a state law that prohibits simultaneous prosecution by the state and federal courts of cases that are based on the same offense.
The Orange County prosecutor’s office was appointed special prosecutor in the case because of Snow’s long-time service in Greene County.
“In fairness to the defendants and in recognition of the exceptional investment of judicial resources this prosecution has required and will continue to require, the commonwealth concludes that it is prudent to notify the court and the defendants before this prosecution is preempted by operation of law,” Fitzgerald wrote.
“This case arose in May 2018 when evidence surfaced that Larry Vernon Snow, the commissioner of revenue for Greene County, had exceed his authorized access to Department of Motor Vehicles computer records in his effort to locate and identify witnesses against Bryant Austin Snow,” Orange County Commonwealth’s Attorney Diana W. O’Connell wrote in a prepared statement.
The charges were made after a DMV investigation uncovered the access, O’Connell said.
“Because this alleged conduct, if proven, violates both state and federal laws and because federal authorities are better equipped to prosecute instances of public corruption, the commonwealth has been cooperating with our federal partners at every stage of these proceedings,” O’Connell wrote.
O’Connell said that, should the federal case not address all of the criminal aspects of the case, state charges could be resumed.
According to the federal indictment, the Snows conspired to access the names, addresses, vehicle identification numbers and license plates of two persons, named in the indictment only by the initials J.S. and R.R.
The indictment also alleges that the information was transferred from Larry to Bryant Snow via the mail and “the offense was committed to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.”
The indictment also charges the Snows with actually taking the information and using it in connection with drug crimes.
During a preliminary trial held in July 2018, a DMV investigator played a 13-minute phone call between father and son, who was in jail at the time, that corresponded to the time from of the alleged unauthorized DMV access.
If Larry Snow is convicted, he could be removed from his elected office as commissioner of the revenue through a petition process submitted to the county circuit court.
State law allows constitutionally elected officers to be removed for a variety of sex crimes, murder and hate crimes.
It also allows office holders to be removed for neglect of duty, misuse of office or incompetence that “has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office,” state law states.
The petition must be signed by enough registered county voters to equal 10% of the total number of votes cast at election for that particular office, state law states, or 571 signatures in this case.
The Snows are scheduled to be in federal court in Charlottesville tomorrow.
—Record Editor Terry Beigie contributed to this report