A former Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputy accused of stealing more than $229,000 from the office’s asset forfeiture program was convicted Thursday of four counts of theft, authorities said.
The guilty verdicts against 45-year-old Frank Pearson resolve a case that spanned years and took a bizarre turn in recent months when the deputy claimed to have more than a decade-long gap in his memory.
Pearson, of Winchester, Va., faces a maximum 10-year penalty on each of the four counts at his June 17 sentencing, though it is unlikely his punishment will be nearly that high. Daniel Lopez, Pearson’s attorney, said Pearson “does not agree with the court’s finding, but he does respect it, and he will pursue his appeal rights.”
Federal prosecutors charged Pearson with theft in 2015, alleging he embezzled money that was supposed to be deposited into an escrow account from the asset-forfeiture program. Pearson had access to the money, seized vehicles and other assets because he ran the program, according to an indictment in the case.
The indictment was the culmination of a years-long investigation that briefly became a hot-button issue in Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman’s reelection campaign, and it took an odd twist late last year when Pearson claimed he had amnesia that prevented him from remembering the time period of the alleged crimes, or even recognizing his grown children.
Defense attorneys said that in October 2013, Pearson was taken to a hospital after Pearson’s wife found him unresponsive on the bathroom floor of the family’s home and that at the time Pearson said the year was 2001 and that he did not recognize friends whom he had met after that year. The theft occurred between 2010 and October 2013.
A judge ordered a psychological evaluation but ultimately deemed Pearson fit to stand trial. Lopez said Pearson did not raise amnesia as a defense at his trial and never intended to. He said Pearson tried to plead guilty earlier this month, but U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III would not accept the plea because Pearson “couldn’t affirm that the statement of facts was not true and accurate because he could not recall the events.”
“It was my position that this was a situation where he recognized that he did have that job, he committed those acts, but he couldn’t remember, similar to someone who committed a crime during a blackout,” Lopez said.
Pearson ultimately elected for a trial by judge and Ellis convicted him.
Prosecutors said they presented evidence that Pearson, who resigned amid the investigation into his conduct, embezzled money from 80 separate cases. A spokeswoman for the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office has said previously that prosecutors had to drop three alleged drug-dealing cases in which Pearson would have been a material witness.