Fraud indictment: Former candidate Halfaday to plead guilty
Former City Council candidate James Halfaday was indicted by a Charlottesville grand jury February 21 on one count of election fraud, and his attorney says Halfaday plans to plead guilty when he goes to court next month.
In October, Halfaday was charged with four counts of election fraud for falsely claiming to live in the city when he ran in last year's Democratic firehouse primary. He listed a Sunset Road address while apparently actually residing on Richmond Road in Albemarle County.
"I am not guilty of these charges," he said in a written statement at the time of his arrest. "I ask that no one judge me before I have had my day in court."
There are other escapades for which Halfaday has not seen any time in court.
He filed a campaign finance report in which he claimed 21 people had each given him exactly $499, but later– after a reporter found several alleged donors renouncing any financial connection– amending the report to concede that he had just two donors. According to the amended report, filed February 14, Kenneth Horneman, with the same address as Halfaday, was the primary contributor.
Nor were charges filed for Halfaday's bogus claim that he owned Snap Fitness, an assertion upended when the 24-hour workout center's actual owners, Mike and Nancy Hamdani, came forward through a lawyer to say they'd owned the gym franchise since 2008 and that Halfaday had never had a stake in it.
Halfaday, who ran as the city's first openly gay and Native American candidate, came in last in the August 20 firehouse primary.
A few days after the primary, he sought an emergency protective order against a married, female volunteer for another candidate, claiming the woman had sent him 134 text messages, including "I love you. I want to be there. I've got a knife for us."
The woman, who denied the allegation, was arrested August 29 for violating the emergency protective order, but when the case came to court in November, Halfaday was a no-show. With the special prosecutor saying he saw just one blank text from the woman, the charges were dropped. The attorney for the woman asserted she was traumatized by what was a concocted allegation by Halfaday.
Despite his client's bizarre behavior, attorney Scott Goodman contends that Halfaday has been maligned by the Hook and chastises a reporter for using the term "disgraced politician" in a prior story.
"I just want to tell you," says Goodman, "it's mean."
In Virginia, election fraud is a Class 5 felony which carries up to 10 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. The guilty plea is not part of a plea agreement, says Goodman, noting that the plea will be entered in Charlottesville Circuit Court on March 6.
That's a day, as the city registrar Sheri Iachetta points out, when there's a primary election in Virginia.
"I think that is ironic," says Iachetta.Read more on: james halfaday