Charlottesville Breaking News

Lawyer: Lethal near bankruptcy

Lethal Wrecker is back in the news again, and this time it's pleading bankruptcy– well, almost. Readers may remember that 2003-2005 were banner years for dust-ups involving Lethal Wrecker and the company's predatory pricing practices– specifically, consistently overcharging parkers trying to pry their impounded cars from Lethal's grasp. In October 2005, the City successfully sued Lethal's owner, George Morris, and extracted a settlement that required that he stop overcharging, issue written receipts, and reimburse towees for the illegal charges. On Tuesday, August 1, however, a letter from Deputy City Attorney Lisa Kelley informed the 21 aggrieved citizens who've been anxiously awaiting refunds ranging from $5 to $170 (for a total payout by Lethal of $1,105) that collection day may be a long time coming. "In court on July 21," Kelly writes, "Lethal's attorney represented to the Court that Lethal does not have the money to pay the claims, and that Lethal is on the verge of bankruptcy." How could a company that once charged over $16,000 for a single tow (for a stuck beer truck wedged between...

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Bodo's sold: Three managers buy the bagel biz

After 20 years at the helm of Bodo's, the legendary bagelry that has become a Charlottesville institution, owner Brian Fox is calling it quits.

“That’s enough,” says Fox, a once notorious workaholic/perfectionist whose penchant for offering low-cost meals was topped only by fascination with how long it took him to open each of this three venues– one of which took a decade.

“Your drive disappears when your responsibilities diminish, at least for me,” says Fox, 61, who says he has backed away from daily operation of the stores over the last few years.

In 1986, Fox hung his famous "bagels are coming" sign on a former Roy Rogers fast-food joint on Emmet Street. Three years later, the first Bodo's opened.

Fox stopped by the Hook June 5 to reveal his news (if not the sales price).

“I want to have more time to read and travel and be relatively worry-free," he says. "I had tremendous ambition to take care of my family, and I’ve done that. The business has worked very hard and well over the years, and I for it.”

Given his attachment to the business, it’s not hard to see why Fox chose a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory method of passing on his bagel empire. Although the business didn’t go to a golden-ticket holder unwrapping his pastrami on sesame, it did go to people who share Fox’s vision: his three general managers.

“They’re like me,” Fox says, “in that they're not satisfied with t...

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ARB approves first phase of Albemarle Place

The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board yesterday approved "Block C" of the Albemarle Place development, a self-proclaimed "town center" to be built at the intersection of Route 29 and Hydraulic Road. As the Hook recently reported, the development will be about the size of two Downtown Malls, with a Main Street, a 14-screen theater, a 120-room hotel, a potential 10-story residential building, and a host of big-name retailers and restaurants. Yesterday’s ARB approval paved the way for the theater and a 5-story office building along Hydraulic Road.

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Burger battle: Flat-out legal warfare... ended

It was flat out.. legal warfare. Venerable burger bar Riverside Lunch was suing its former employee, Ryan Martin, for allegedly ripping off the Riverside concept.

The suit, filed in January 2005, claimed that Riverside's décor– as well as its methods of cooking and serving hamburgers and other fried foods– was unique and that customers might get confused if they stepped into Martin's Grill, which opened nearly a year ago at Forest Lakes.

Riverside claimed it was a victim of such "unfair competition" that it made a federal case out of it. The theory of the case, filed in U.S. District Court, rested on a special concept in intellectual law called "trade dress."

Riverside has long touted its burgers as "flat out" the best in town. But is the "trade dress" of the Riverside– including tiny disposable plates and fries served in a plastic basket– so distinctive that Martin should change the way he does business?

The question never made it to a jury. The two sides worked out a secret settlement, and the case was dismissed by the court September 15. And while both sides may have returned to slinging grease instead of mud, there was a time when acrimony ruled the Charlottesville burger world.

"I think it's frivolous," said Martin of the case in a February interview. "I think it's ridiculous."

A veteran of severa...

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Rapist absent: Unsealed file says cops knew

State police have known for at least three years that a convicted rapist was not at work the day Rebecca Lynn Williams was raped and stabbed to death in her Culpeper apartment, according to an investigative report unsealed by court order Friday, November 12.

In addition, Kenneth Tinsley's DNA was found in seminal fluid on a blanket at the scene of the June 4, 1982, crime. Results of the DNA tests, conducted in 2000, prompted then-Gov. Jim Gilmore to grant a full pardon to Earl Washington Jr., who had been sentenced to death for the Williams slaying. Tinsley has not been charged in Williams' death.

In the documents that U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon ordered unsealed, Tinsley told police he had no idea how his semen got on the blanket.

"If it's mine, as God's witness, I do not know how it got there," Tinsley was quoted as telling investigators.

Tinsley, 59, speculated that detectives might have planted the evidence, using a semen sample from a previous trial. Tinsley is serving two life terms for a 1984 rape in Albemarle County.

He also said the blanket perhaps was stained in a previous consensual sexual encounter elsewhere.

"He stated that over the years he possibly had sex on a blue blanket in various cities," including New York and Chicago, the investigators wrote.

Another report recounted a conversation with an executive at Tultex Corp. in Martinsville, where Tinsley worked. The executive said records in Tinsley's fil...

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