‘’Breaking Bad” Virginia Mayor Busted in Meth-for-Sex Scandal

By - August 5, 2016
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Richard Silverthorne is the mayor of Fairfax VA by day, and a substitute teacher in Fairfax County VA public schools. But if federal agents are right, Silverthorne allegedly has another job: meth dealer.

Silverthorne was arrested by federal agents this week and charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, Fairfax County police said.

He was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and later was released from the facility on his own recognizance.

Silverthorne’s federal legal problems started in late July when someone tipped the Fairfax County police about a methamphetamine distributor in the area. Federal investigators were able to ID a person who was allegedly selling meth through a website that is used to set up casual sexual encounters between males.

A federal agent created his own profile on the website and he soon was in communication with a suspect on text. He offered meth for sexual encounters, the police allege.

Police then set up a group sex encounter with Silverthorne, who allegedly agreed to bring meth with several men. Last week, the men and the undercover agents met at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tysons Corner VA. The mayor was then placed under arrest.

For the Fairfax mayor, his arrest is the culmination of two years of major problems. In 2015, he was laid off from a recruiting job with the National Assn. of Manufacturers. He filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after he owed $60,000 to various creditors and a bank foreclosed on his hope.

Even worse, Silverthorne was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his neck.

After the mayor was arrested last week, federal investigators then closed in on his drug suppliers. They arrested two suspects: Juan Jose Fernandez, 34, and Caustin Lee McLaughlin, 21, both of Maryland.

One man has been charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine, felony possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

McLaughlin was charged also with resisting arrest and had to be shocked with a Taser. He was also charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine, felony obstruction of justice, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

All of the men who were arrested were sent to Fairfax County Jail and then delivered to the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office. It is not known if Silverthorne has a lawyer.

Last May, Silverthorne was victorious in his third term as mayor of Fairfax VA, which is a wealthy suburb of 25,000 people right next to Washington DC. He also worked as a substitute teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools since spring but has been fired.

Silverthorne is a Democrat and he previously served nine terms on Fairfax city council. His father, Frederick Silverthorne, was the mayor of Fairfax City in the late 1970s.

With his skin cancer in remission, Silverthorne this year resumed the lead in attempts to improve the economic standing of Fairfax City by redeveloping strip malls and other large land parcels with the hope of bringing more developers to the region.

As mayor, Silverthorne had brought many  improvements to Fairfax City. He was responsible for a green space ordinance that made it possible to bring in a new downtown park in the Old Town part of the town.

Silverthorne also helped to relieve tensions with a local homeless center after Fairfax City lost a VA Supreme Court fight that was part of an attempt to push the center out of the area.

In the coming weeks, Silverthorne’s case will likely go before a Fairfax County grand jury. If indicted, he will then stand trial, if there is not a plea bargain.

About Federal Drug Possession and Distribution

Federal drug laws are set up to clearly define several possible charges. All of the charges involve substantial prison time. The laws are set up based upon a schedule on which the controlled substance is found, which in this case is methamphetamine.

Remember that federal drug laws are very complex, so if you have been charged, you need to work closely with your attorney to understand the potential penalties involved.

Simple drug possession is the least serious of these federal charges, but the mayor also has been charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine, which is very serious. People who have been charged with illegal drug distribution have been accused of delivering or selling controlled substances.

The consequences of federal drug distribution charges depend upon the amounts of methamphetamine involved and any previous criminal background the mayor has.

While drug distribution and trafficking are very serious charges, even worse would be the federal charge of manufacturing controlled substances, which apparently the mayor did not do.

Many drug offenders who were found guilty of simple drug possession often were sentenced to at least three years in federal prison. As of 2016, mandatory minimum sentences are not pursued in some simple possession cases. However, mandatory minimum sentences certainly still apply to people convicted of felony drug distribution.