Augusta County Board Supervisor Calls for Federal Investigation into Alleged Illegal Practices
AUGUSTA COUNTY, VA — In a tense meeting to call the Board of Supervisors into a closed-door session today, Wayne District Supervisor Dr. Scott Seaton challenged County Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald, his fellow board members, and the management of the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center. Addressing a gathering of over a dozen concerned citizens, Seaton alleged that the county has been unlawfully charging animal owners with excessive fines and fees for two decades, resulting in the death of many animals when their owners couldn't afford to pay.
At the heart of the contention are the controversial "ransom fees" the county imposes when animals get loose and are brought to the county shelter. As detailed by Seaton, the County has continued to levy these fees despite allegedly knowing they were illegal. The Supervisor argues that these fees have led to the needless killing of animals when their owners couldn't afford to pay in time, referring to a recent incident involving a dog named Annabelle, who was euthanized before her owner could pay the fees.
Seaton, while suggesting that the closed door meeting may have been called to "punish" him for blowing the whistle on the county's crimes, called for state and federal criminal investigations into the county's practices, noting that retaliatory action would also be a criminal offense. The Supervisor claimed he has evidence of several state and federal felonies committed by the county, demanding transparency throughout the investigation process.
The board, made aware of these allegations, is yet to publicly respond. As the story unfolds, it promises to illuminate troubling practices in Augusta County's government, the potential misuse of public funds, and what appears to be a failure of oversight at multiple levels of local government.
This ongoing saga follows an initial investigation reported by Breaking Through News, where Seaton first publicly addressed his concerns about the alleged illegal civil fees during an open board meeting. The allegations come on the heels of the county rejecting the transparency of body and dash cameras for law enforcement, and allegations that county deputies have violated the Constitutional rights of county residents.
The allegations, if substantiated, could have significant implications for the governance and operations of the county, and raise serious questions about accountability and the treatment of animals in the care of public institutions.
As this story continues to unfold, we will bring you updates on the progress and outcomes of the investigations as they become available.