Home Seaton, in letters to FBI, DOJ, details ‘potential criminal activity’ in Augusta County government
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Seaton, in letters to FBI, DOJ, details ‘potential criminal activity’ in Augusta County government

Chris Graham
FBI
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Scott Seaton said earlier this month that he had been in contact with the Department of Justice regarding potentially criminal goings-on behind the scenes in Augusta County government.

We have the receipts.

Two letters from Seaton, one to the FBI, the second to the DOJ, are now public, released by the county this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by county resident Mary Beth Barbagallo.

Included with the letters, both dated Aug. 1, Seaton, who represents the Wayne District on the Board of Supervisors, were copies of 33 recordings of closed sessions of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, dating back to 2020, “for their safekeeping and potential use,” he wrote, “as you see fit for further investigation.”

“I am concerned that if I turn these recordings over to the board without a court order, I could be obstructing potential criminal investigation. I don’t think they are concerned only about bad jokes,” Seaton wrote.

The closed-session recordings themselves have not been made public. The county, citing the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, has denied several requests, including two separate ones filed by Augusta Free Press, for access to the recordings.

AFP has filed a petition for an appeal of the denial for access to a copy of the recording of the March 20, 2023, closed session that was held hours after South River Supervisor Steven Morelli resigned his seat on the BOS.

A court date has been set for Tuesday, Sept. 5, to hear that appeal.

Seaton, in his letters to the FBI and DOJ, lays out the backstory to the last few months of what has been going on behind the scenes, and in public, in Augusta County government, asserting that he has been targeted by fellow BOS members because he has raised issue with fees the county has been assessing on animals held at the regional animal shelter.

Seaton has been pushing the board and county staff to address the shelter fees, saying the fees have been assessed illegally for years because they don’t appear to be allowed by county ordinance or the state code.

Seaton, in his letters to the FBI and DOJ, said he has invoked federal whistleblower protections in relation to his push on the animal shelter fee issue.

The pushback from BOS members that resulted in Seaton’s formal censure in July, he wrote, is directly related to his efforts on the shelter fees, though board members specifically cited, in the censure resolution, their contention that Seaton had violated protocol by releasing information about the March 20 closed session, the one held after Morelli had resigned his seat on the board.

The board’s chair, Michael Shull, revealed, apparently inadvertently, during a discussion ahead of the censure vote that the Morelli resignation was the result of sexual harassment allegations against the now-former supervisor.

Shull, we have to assume, brought that point up publicly to try to blame Seaton for that information having found its way into the local rumor mill.

To Seaton, from what he wrote in his letters to the FBI and DOJ, that blame game on the part of county leaders is evidence of an effort to intimidate him into silence.

“They are spending an inordinate amount of energy and time trying to convince the public that I have shared the recorded files while trying to intimidate me,” Seaton wrote, and later speculated why.

“Because of their incessant harassment, I am concerned that potential criminal activity may be on the recordings that I haven’t recognized, as I am a physician and have relied on the county attorney for advice about the legality of discussions during the closed sessions,” Seaton wrote.

“Please keep these records and use them as you see fit for your potential investigation if they have information worthy of investigation,” Seaton wrote. “I believe the county’s participation in the illegal fines and fees scheme deserves investigation to determine who knew about the illegal activity and when.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].