The Justice Department yesterday filed criminal and civil charges against a Fauquier County couple accusing them of defying a l7-year-old court order that they serve blacks at their small Virginia restaurant.
Restaurant owner Roy E. McKoy, 60, was charged with five counts of discriminating against blacks since 1983 by not allowing them to be served or enter his Belvoir Restaurant, located near the town of Marshall, 50 miles west of Washington on Rte. 55.
McKoy's wife, Patricia, was charged with a single count of discrimination.
The department also asked the federal district court in Alexandria to order the McKoys to show cause why they should not be held in civil contempt for violation of the 1967 court order that directed McKoy to comply with the public accommodations section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The couple, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, are to be arraigned on the charges Jan. 11.
The FBI and Justice Department began investigating the McKoys after WRC-TV reported that one of its news crews, which included two blacks, was told that coffee at the Belvoir would cost them "$500 a cup."
On Dec. 7, three black women were turned away from the small restaurant while a white woman was inside eating.
The three filed a civil lawsuit against the McKoys last week accusing them of violating their civil rights.
The criminal charges filed late yesterday by the U.S. Attorney Elsie L. Munsel cited the television crew incident, the Dec. 7 one, another in November, and a similiar incident involving a black tenant farmer in 1983.
The criminal charges also include not posting a sign noting that "We serve everyone regardless of race or color."
The couple was required to post such a sign as part of the 1967 order.
These are the first criminal charges filed against McKoy, who has been twice jailed since 1967 on contempt charges for discriminating against blacks.
McKoy, who went to jail both times rather than serve blacks, said in a brief, recent interview it was "my business" whom he allowed in his cafe.
"They're harassing me," he said of the three black women who wanted to be served. "I let in whoever I want."
If convicted, the McKoys face fines of $500 and six months in jail on each count. The penalty for civil contempt is incarceration until compliance with the court order.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Berger and Stuart Silverman said yesterday that the filing of criminal charges in a racial discrimination case is unusual and stemmed from allegations that the McKoys repeatedly violated the 1967 permanent order issued by the late district court judge Oren R. Lewis.
"It's rare that you have criminal charges, because most people will comply with the civil court order," Berger said.
During a federal court hearing in 1967, McKoy told Lewis that constitutional rights did not apply to "the dark people."
McKoy was jailed for about a month and then released after agreeing to comply with the order. He was jailed in 1974 for again refusing to serve blacks.