Muddy tracks: RICO plaintiff alleges vandalism
A Greene County man suing his homeowners association under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act says his property was vandalized on the eve of his June 23 court date. Police contend the damage was accidental, caused by volunteer firefighters who got stuck on Douglas Dye's Dogwood Valley property.
Dye (left) was returning home around 8pm June 14 when he met two Greene County trucks going around a blind curve "excessively fast," he says. "I had a bad feeling. It puzzled me." When he got to his gate, "I saw mud coming out onto the county road."
He found the land around his pond rutted and gouged. An emergency spill pipe coming from the dam had been run over and damaged, causing seepage and, he says, threatening the dam.
Dye acknowledges that Stanardsville volunteer firefighters did have a legitimate reason to be on his property. Using state and federal grants, he'd had two "dry" fire hydrants– hydrants that could fill up a pumper truck from his ponds– installed February 15, and the local fire department was supposed to come in and test the hydrants.
But Dye doesn't believe this was a legitimate visit because the trucks he saw were not fire trucks that would be pumping water in a real emergency, and the fire department had a map of his property showing the location of the hydrants and the service roads leading to them.
"If they'd been there for legitimate reasons, they'd have the right equipment and they'd have the map and they'd know where the hydrants are," Dye says. "I think it's willful because there's no reason to be off the service road."
Dye says his fellow plaintiffs in the RICO suit against the Dogwood Valley Citizens Association have been threatened. A mule and three dogs belonging to fellow litigant Mitch Miller were poisoned "under mysterious circumstances," says Dye. "This is the first time for me."
Greene Sheriff Scott Haas and Fire Chief Mike Dickerson say the damage was accidental when volunteer firefighters went to test the hydrants, and not intimidation relating to the pending civil suit in federal court.
"No, no, no," says Haas. "You're going to find it's an accident. It's not a conspiracy."
Some Dogwood Valley residents also complain that the Greene Sheriff's Office no longer investigates the many calls it gets from the contentious neighborhood. "We're not getting– as usual– a good-faith police investigation," says Dye. "You can quote me on that."
"It's a lie," says Haas, "When we get a report, we have to investigate." He does caution: "Take everything there with a grain of salt."
Fire Chief Dickerson maintains that the volunteers took a wrong turn when they went to test the hydrants, got stuck in the wet ground, and called another truck to come pull them out. "I told the officer investigating to have Mr. Dye call me," says Dickerson. "If he'd already called me, I'd have it fixed already."
The firefighters didn't take a fire truck up to Dye's property because they were testing the fittings on the hydrants first, says Dickerson, who was not aware of the test until Dye called the police. "We're volunteers," explains Dickerson. "It doesn't have to be approved by me."
The chief declines to say who the volunteers were.
Dye doesn't believe the damage was accidental, and now he's worried the harm to the spill pipe could threaten his dam and the 2.5 million gallons of water it holds.
He had the hydrants put installed on his property as a public service to his neighbors in the event of a wildfire, he says. But if the integrity of the dam is destroyed, if there ever is a fire, the dry hydrants will do no good at a dry pond.