Grand jury forming to hear evidence against Loudoun official Eugene Delgaudio
By Caitlin Gibson,
Prosecutors have begun impaneling a grand jury to review evidence against Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, according to two people who were summoned for the selection process last week.
The potential jurors were convened Feb. 5 in Loudoun County Circuit Court, where a judge told them that the grand jury was being assembled to look into allegations against Delgaudio, the two people said. Both were ultimately dismissed.
Delgaudio, 58, has been the subject of a criminal investigation since November, when Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos (D) was appointed to review accusations that the Sterling Republican used county resources to benefit his political campaign.
Donna Mateer, one of Delgaudio’s former county aides, said in a Washington Post article last year that she was told to spend most of her work time in early 2012 scheduling fundraising meetings for Delgaudio.
Mateer, who was fired by Delgaudio shortly after she filed a complaint with the county Human Resources Department last year, collected extensive records from Delgaudio’s office, which included fundraising spreadsheets and e-mail correspondence related to her allegations.
Delgaudio has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He has acknowledged that his aides were told to set up fundraising meetings but maintains that they were intended solely to benefit a local youth football league, not his political campaign. Loudoun policy prohibits using county time or county resources for political activities.
Charles King, Delgaudio’s attorney, declined to comment Tuesday. Delgaudio did not respond to a request for comment.
At the court proceeding last week, a judge introduced Stamos and said the case was referred to her by Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney James E. Plowman (R) to avoid any potential conflict of interest, according to the dismissed jurors. Plowman and Delgaudio are both elected officials.
Stamos declined to comment on the status of the investigation and the existence of a grand jury.
The judge also asked the prospective jurors whether they had any prior knowledge of the case or Delgaudio that could affect their ability to be impartial, according to the two dismissed jurors. Members of the pool were later called into the courtroom one by one for questioning.
Scott Findley, one of the dismissed jurors, said that the questions asked during his brief individual courtroom appearance focused on his own competence and his ability to judge Delgaudio fairly. The details of the case and the alleged evidence against Delgaudio were mentioned during the proceeding, he said.
Stamos also repeated that the review would involve at least six sessions “specifically in the next two or three months,” Findley said. “She said there were a lot of documents to be reviewed.”
Findley said he was dismissed because of his concerns about the time commitment the case would require.
“They wanted to know if what I knew about Mr. Delgaudio would interfere with my ability to be fair. And I said I thought that I could be fair but that the time constraints were really my concern,” he said.
The other potential juror, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proceedings were confidential, said he was dismissed by a clerk because the jury had already been selected before he could be called to the courtroom for questioning.
Delgaudio, a four-term supervisor, served on the board’s Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee and the Transportation and Land Use Committee, but he was stripped of those assignments last month at the board’s first business meeting of the year. The controversial official, who routinely injects himself into heated political battles across the country through his conservative nonprofit group, Public Advocate of the United States, has long been known for his public denunciations of gay people as “perverts” and “freaks.”
In particular, Delgaudio has used Public Advocate to rail against same-sex marriage initiatives in various states and argue that federal anti-bullying legislation and airport pat-downs are evidence of a “radical homosexual” agenda.
Delgaudio is also involved in a federal lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Public Advocate. The SPLC, which designated Public Advocate as a hate group last year, filed the lawsuit in September on behalf of a same-sex couple whose engagement photo was allegedly stolen from their wedding blog and widely distributed on anti-gay rights campaign mailers in Colorado.