Charlottesville Breaking News

Belmont rocked: Neighborhood drug ring smashes stereotypes

With its trendy restaurants, remodeled houses, and close proximity to downtown, Belmont has enjoyed at least a decade as the hip district for Charlottesville's young professionals. It turns out that some of them were professional dealers in a substance not usually associated with a gentrifying part of town: crack cocaine.

The Belmont-based crack organization had its own dedicated telephone hotline for customers to place their orders, and some of the buyers earned six-figure incomes, says U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy.

"One of the members of this conspiracy went to an elite private high school in this area and came from a good family," says Heaphy.

Rebecca Lee "Becca" Brannock, a 2006 graduate of St. Anne's-Belfield, a private school with annual tuition topping $20,000, often sold crack at her residence and reserved in her own name the hotel rooms used to package the crack and to arrange sales, court papers note.

Her father is real estate broker Tommy Brannock, recently named by the Daily Progress as one of its "Distinguished Dozen" for his good works. He declined to comment.

Heaphy says that the kingpin was Reagan Richards, 31, who used his trusted nephew, Rashard Richards, 18, to run the enterprise that included the alleged kingpin's sister as well as Rashard's 38-year-old mother, Teresa Sims. In all, 11 peopl...

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Labor of love: Covesville Victorian renovated by neighbor

Address: 5502 Monacan Trail Road
Covesville in southern Albemarle
Year Built:
 2,816 finished sq. ft., 0 unfinished
.58 acres
Curb Appeal:
9 out of 10
Listing Agent:
Eve Hesselroth, Frank Hardy, Inc. - 434-825-1878

There are several attractive features to appreciate in the Queen Anne Victorian situated at near the southwestern tip of the county, but perhaps its most interesting is the history.

Back in the 1870s, a teen bride named Irena Norvell moved into a 2-over-2 farmhouse with her new husband and immediately set to work transforming the house into her dream home. It’s unclear exactly how long it took the young bride to add the distinctive octagonal attached gazebo, stained glass windows, and uniquely shaped rooms at the front of the home. What is clear is that her efforts were so successful that the presence of the McCormick House, as it is now known, helped the town of Covesville attain its designation as a historic community.

Irena Norvell, who became Irena McCormick after her second marriage, not only provided hands-on assistance with the renovations, she also accommodated guests during the decade when she used her ho...

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Silly panic: The fuss over a 'minority white' nation

"Whites will become a minority of the American population by midcentury if not sooner," states America Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray in his fascinating new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. In repeating this claim, Murray (likely unintentionally) furthers a misconception about the country's shifting racial makeup and what it means for the future of the United States.

Murray's likely source is the much-ballyhooed 2009 U.S. Census report that parsed certain immigration trends and fertility trends to reach that conclusion. But the claim that "whites" will be a minority in America by 2050 implies an invidious view of the importance of ethnicity and race. 'Whites,' by earlier definitions cherished by nativists, are already a minority in this country and have been for many decades. The successful amalgamation of previously scorned "races" is a testament to the ever-broadening inclusive tolerance of the Ameri...

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Transcript-gate: UVA law student waives, gets trial date

Joshua Peter Gomes, the former UVA law student and former fashion model charged with breaking into the university registrar's office, waived a preliminary hearing April 12, and will go to trial on two felony burglary charges and a felony possession of burglary tools charge.

Gomes, 25, was arrested in the wee hours of December 7 outside Carruthers Hall on Emmet Street, after registrar employees had noticed signs of a break-in on December 6, including what allegedly turned out to be a spy cam disguised as a coat hook.

A University Police officer examining the contents of the tiny camera discovered the image of a young, African-American male timestamped at 3am December 5. According to earlier courtroom testimony, the video shows the mysterious alleged intruder facing the camera before he turns and begins rifling through file cabinets. Police say that man was Gomes, now persona non grata at UVA, which banned him from setting foot on university property. According to police, transcript paper was found at his residence,

After the hearing, former model Gomes, sporting...

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Muzzle time: VA prisons receive life sentence in censorship

Of all the celebrations around town that commemorate the April 13 birthday of third president and Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, perhaps the best– and worst– birthday gift comes from his namesake Center for the Protection of Free Expression, which annually bestows its Muzzle awards for the most egregious violations of free speech.

Sadly, there are always contenders, and Jefferson's hometown is not exempt. Both the Cavalier Daily and Albemarle High have been cited for muzzling free speech in the past.

This year's 21st Muzzle awards bring a blot of shame to Jefferson's home state with a lifetime achievement Muzzle. "The Virginia Department of Corrections is a repeat offender," says Thomas Jefferson Center executive director Josh Wheeler. "Three strikes and you're out."

The DOC also is only the third recipient of a lifetime achievement Muzzle, joining...

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