CAMPBELL COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7)-- An Altavista Town Council member will serve time on house arrest for willfully neglecting his duty as an elected official.
Timothy George, left, next to his attorney in Campbell County Circuit Court Tuesday. WDBJ7 photo.
Timothy George, 58, entered into a plea agreement in Campbell County Circuit Court Tuesday, pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect.
A grand jury indicted George in May 2019 on two felony perjury counts stemming from his 2018 campaign for town council. The charges were amended to misdemeanors as part of the plea agreement. Special Prosecutor Andrew Nester, Henry County, said he does not believe George’s actions rise to the level of a felony conviction.
The plea agreement mandates George spend five days in house arrest for each charge, complete 150 hours of community service and pay a fine.
According to Nester, the VSP investigation revealed George was leaving petitions of qualified voters for his candidacy unattended at the Altavista Area YMCA to collect signatures for the November 2018 election.
Virginia law mandates either the person running for office or a designated signature collector be present at the time individuals sign the petition. George allegedly signed two petitions saying he witnessed all signatures. Investigators spoke with people listed on those two petitions and identified four people whose signatures were not observed by George.
“There was nothing egregious that happened. Mr. George did not witness the signatures. He did not gain any advantage by this,” said Nester. “He did commit a crime, but instead of saddling him with a felony for the rest of his life this was a good disposition.”
George said he will continue to serve his term on town council. He declined an interview request with WDBJ7, but wrote in a statement, “I love living in this small town of Altavista and I’m sure that I’ve made mistakes along the way but they were never for political, personal or financial gain. I am a gun engraver by trade and that is how I make my living.”
Nester said the conviction does not call into question the validity of the election, because even without the four signatures, George had enough signatures from petitioners to run.
“It is important to note in this case, all of the people who signed the petitions were registered voters who wanted to see him run for town council. This was not anything false about the signatures. These were valid citizens who wanted to see him run,” Glenn Berger, George’s attorney.
During the course of the investigation, VSP and Nester learned it was a common practice in the past for people to leave petitions at the YMCA for people to endorse. VSP nor Nester have been designated to investigate other perjury or election related allegations.
“If you are in an elected office, we are going to hold people responsible to the rules and regulations that you have to follow,” said Nester.
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