Arlington prosecutor William S. Burroughs Jr., whose handling of a murder investigation was the subject of a state police investigation earlier this year, now is using Arlington sheriff's deputies to investigate the people responsible for the earlier state investigation.
Burroughs said yesterday that his investigation has been going on for two months and has led him to believe that "either somebody is lying to us - or the attorney general and state police acted without any legal authority" in their investigation.
"You can believe I'm going to find out whether it [the state's investigation] was political or not, whether it was just a fishing expedition," Burroughs said yesterday.
Virginia Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman, who ordered the state investigation, is a Republican. Burroughs is a Democrat.
Coleman said yesterday that he ordered the investigation because there was a basis to believe a crime has been committed. After a three-month probe by state police, Coleman announced on July 31 that Burroughs was not guilty of any criminal conduct and that the state's investigation was closed.
Burroughs, however, has been determined to learn what let to the investigation. He said he has asked Coleman, his top aides and state police, what allegations had been made, "but I was told I was not entitled to know what the charges against me were."
The prosecutor said such a response is "unheard of," adding "Mr. Coleman obviously has no conception of hthe meaning of due process."
It is also extraordinary for an urban commonwealth's attorney, as Virginia prosecutors are called to recruit sheriff's deputies, whose normal duties include guarding prisoners, courtroom security, and serving court papers.
Sheriff J. Elwood Clements, 67, also an elected Democrat, said yesterday he has assigned two sergeants to work with Burroughs. "Another [constitutional] officer asked for some help - he can have them," Clements said, referring to Burroughs.
Burroughs said he could not use Arlington policemen who typically investigate crime for him because they had a role in launching the state investigation against him.
Coleman yesterday said he is "disturbed" by the kind investigation Burroughs apparently is conducting and that, if successful, it could be used by politicians elsewhere in the state to "intimidate and thwart" investigations of public officials. "If it worked it basically would place public officials above culpability for any wrong doing," Coleman said.
Coleman declined to reveal any allegations that had been made against Burroughs, but said "obviously you wouldn't make an investigation without allegations."
Burroughs said he and his investigators have interviewed two dozen people and have been unable to discover anyone who made any allegations of criminal activity against him.