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.

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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." is politics. Goodman can blow it out his - well you know! Really, is there a charge there? Whining there - I hate whining.

Perhaps we should send the JD some cheese?

What a disappointment not fighting this . Was looking forward to a plausable creative defense that would have shown he had meet the minimal conditions specified by the law .He was down to just one alleged count of election fraud,surely he must have had some agreement set up where he could declare the Sunset Road as a residence . Maybe the agreement was set up and fell apart or whatever , come on James don't wimp out . Fight it from the perspective of a Native American at least , there are numerous avenues to argue your assertion of residence within the city ...

Oh, I don't know...halfaday seems just crazy enough to be a good fit to this city's council.

Give us a break, Frank Speaker. He didn't live in the city. It can be proven. What about his assertion he owned Snap Fitness when someone else owned it? What about all the "documented" donors who said they never really donated any money to his campaign? Perhaps he should address it from the perspective of an honorable Native American and tell the truth and admit his mistakes.

Why does Halfaday have to live in the city he would have been serving if elected?

The city manager doesn't.

So the attorney tells everyone that he will plead guilty, but calls The Hook on maligning Halfaday?

Perhaps Halfaday should check his attorneys credentials, or the attorney should check Halfaday for credibility......

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Give us a break -- He is only charged with the address issue . The other points are not in issue other than for discussion perhaps . He should fight the case ,fight the law on all fronts. Surely he must have his side of the issue to present . GBSOE points out the law may not be on valid grounds if the city manager isn't required to adhere to it but a mere counsellor can be convicted of fraud by it . His lawyer seems to be as usless as spit . Anyone can plead guilty and insult the press on their own for free .

Did he actually say he owned Snap Fitness? On his web site, he uses wording that is doublespeak, something like "Halfaday's fitness club" but never says he "owns" it. Like, if I went to YMCA fitness, I could tell people "that's my fitness club" or "there's my barber shop."

That being said, I do love the Key West-ish "after" pics of his weight loss.

Finally, the man in the picture is identified as former super rock promoter Bill Graham (back from the dead; Halfaday claims he discovered Graham was indeed alive).

R.I.P.: Jim Henson

The Fire Chief doesn't live within the City limits either. The Chief of Police is Not allowed to live outside of the the City limits (by City code?) but the Fire Chief does? What's the difference? The city manager gets a yearly "pass" until he chooses to move to the City limits. Why doesn't the law or city code take these high ranking officials and have all of them line up with each other? Either all have to live w/in the City Limits or not. Doesn't make sense.

Many of the city police officers do not live within the city of Charlottesville either - their pay can't support this area's housing costs.

Personally, I don't see why a job would dictate where I could or couldn't live. Just sayin' - now I can understand a politician must live within the area they represent - that makes perfect sense!

I just think this dude is crazy - something is seriously off about him. Goodwin should see that he gets help and then sign up for therapy himself. To make a comment about the media - just is wrong. Afterall, he wouldn't be getting his retainer if it had not been for the Hooks reports on this looney tunes...

What I can't figure out is his motive. When people commit some sort of fraud its usually in hopes of obtaining money or some sort of material gain. But he could have hardly expected to get rich on a councillor's stipend. He must have had some sort of delusion of grandeur about serving in elected office.
As for where city officials live, thats irrelevant in this case. They are not charged with giving false information, are not breaking the law. I don't really think it matters where an official lives- after all Downing Smith served as Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney for many years and lived on Locust Avenue. I have never heard that anyone made an issue of it.

Where you live has always been a loosing issue in New Yawk City.

Most cops and city employees live on LI or in the outer boroughs. Always an electrion year issue until teh unions took it over and made it a non-issue.

SkipD - don't forget who the victim is in this case!!!!!!!

4 counts and three got thrown out by the grand jury? All 4 counts are the same saying he lived in the charlottesville city and they throw out three but not four? I'd say he has a really good chance of beating this and showing the world what a classless city this is.