The recently re-elected Greene County commissioner of revenue and his son pleaded not guilty to federal charges of identity theft and conspiracy to commit identity theft at a court hearing in Charlottesville last Friday.
The charges were handed down in an Oct. 23 sealed indictment. They were unsealed on Nov. 7, which led Orange County prosecutors on Nov. 8 to drop more than a dozen similar charges filed in state courts.
Larry Vernon Snow and his son Bryant Austin Snow are charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts of identity theft. According to the indictments, the Snows conspired to access Department of Motor Vehicle records and get the personal information of two people in order to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.
The younger Snow currently is serving time at the Central Virginia Region Jail in Orange 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 Greene’s commissioner of revenue in the Nov. 5 general election; he was the only one on the ballot. A challenger, Peggy Ganoe, withdrew from the race prior to Election Day. Snow received 4,263 votes, Ganoe received 1,351 votes, despite dropping her campaign, and there were 99 write-in votes. Snow was first elected to the position in 1987.
Last Friday, both men appeared in Charlottesville’s federal court to be arraigned. After pleading not guilty, the elder Snow was granted bond while the younger Snow did not request bond. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel C. Hoppe told the younger Snow that he would be able to request a bond hearing at a later date, if he so chooses.
The indictments by Greene and Orange courts are being suspended in favor of the federal charges, Ray B. Fitzgerald, deputy Orange commonwealth’s attorney, wrote in a letter to court clerks.
The move follows a state law that prohibits simultaneous prosecution by state and federal courts for the same offense.
The Orange prosecutor’s office was appointed special prosecutor in the case because of Snow’s long-time service in Greene.
“This case arose in May 2018 when evidence surfaced that Larry Vernon Snow, the commissioner of revenue for Greene County, had exceeded his authorized access to Department of Motor Vehicles computer records in his effort to locate and identify witnesses against Bryant Austin Snow,” Orange 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.
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 indictments also allege that the information was transferred from Larry Snow to Bryant Snow via mail and that “the offense was committed to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.”
The indictments also charge 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 of the alleged unauthorized DMV access.
If Larry Snow is convicted, he could be removed from his elected office through a petition process submitted to the Greene 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 officeholders to be removed for neglect of duty, misuse of office or incompetence that “has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.”
The petition must be signed by enough registered county voters to equal 10% of the total number of votes most recently cast for that particular office, per state law. In this case, a petition would need at least 571 signatures to be considered by a court.
The Snows are scheduled for a three day trial beginning Jan. 13.