Staunton Announces 16 Predator Arrests; Augusta Sheriff's Role in Helping One Defendant Questioned
Written by: Michael Phillips
Staunton Task Force's Near Perfect Arrest/Conviction Record: 16 New Suspects Arrested as Questions Remain Over Singular Court Loss
Sixteen (16) Arrested This Week in Staunton: A Testament to Persistent Policing
STAUNTON, VA — The shadows of the digital realm have never been more perilous, with online child predators lurking at every turn. In a determined effort to combat this menace, a Staunton Police Department’s covert operation recently arrested 16 individuals. Hailing from diverse locations, including as far off as Fredericksburg and Richmond, these individuals face serious charges, ranging from online solicitation of minors to attempted indecent liberties.
The commendable efficiency of the operation isn't an isolated incident. Since a significant sting in 2011, the department has maintained a near-perfect conviction rate in these type of cases, according to Court records reviewed by Breaking Through News. This success is a testament to the diligence and efficacy of their efforts. They have also done it alone... as Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith refused to allow his agency to participate in the task force. According to Waynesboro Commonwealth's Attorney David Ledbetter:
"Sheriff Smith says his office was not aware of the Human Trafficking Initiative until April of 2019. This is simply false. Numerous Augusta County Sheriffs Deputies aftended the November S, 2018 training. Sheriff Smith received a personal invitation, and was asked by the Augusta County Victim Witness Coordinator to engage with Waynesboro on the issue, but declined to do so."
So, not only did Sheriff Smith refuse to participate in the task force... according to the Waynesboro Commonwealth Attorney he lied about it later.
Felix Chujoy: The Puzzling Exception in an Otherwise Spotless Record
But amidst these triumphs, a perplexing anomaly casts a long shadow: the case of Felix Chujoy. In 2012, Chujoy faced indictments for indecent liberties with a child and using a computer to solicit child sex. Surprisingly, he evaded substantial prison time due to what former Staunton Circuit Court Judge Hume called “prosecution errors.”
Chujoy’s courtroom journey is rife with unexpected turns. From facing child molestation charges in 2012, to federal labor trafficking indictments in 2017, to meth distribution charges in 2019, Chujoy has deftly navigated the justice system, avoiding significant convictions, raising eyebrows, and prompting questions about potential external influences.
*Copies of 2012 State Indictments for child sex solicitation against Felix Chujoy.
*Copy of confirmation of 2019 drug distribution indictment. It is worth noting that when he was charged by the task force, Sheriff Smith is alleged to have withheld his information from the computer system that tracks wanted persons, according to records obtained through FOIA by Breaking Through News.
The Sheriff and Chujoy: A Relationship Shrouded in Controversy
Adding complexity to Chujoy's legal odyssey is his well-documented history with Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith. Sheriff Smith has openly admitted their close relationship on social media, even describing them as gym buddies.
However, the waters get murkier when one digs deeper:
Illicit Jailhouse Communications: According to jail recordings received through a FOIA request, Sheriff Smith accepted dozens of calls from an incarcerated Chujoy following his 2016 federal arrest. These communications were allegedly facilitated using PIN numbers fraudulently obtained from unsuspecting Rockingham County jail inmates.
Financial Assistance: According to a source, Sheriff Smith played a crucial role in organizing Chujoy's bond for the sexual assault charges. The bond was posted by Dave Bourne, the Augusta Republican Party Chair and candidate for Augusta County Treasurer.
Personal Asset Sharing: Chujoy told Breaking Through News that after his release from jail on child sex solicitation charges, he was given access to the Sheriff's vehicle for personal use. He would not comment on the nature of their relationship.
Additionally, statements from some of Chujoy's victims imply that the duo might have spent nights together in the same room upstairs from where they were held in a human trafficking scheme, hinting at a potentially deeper connection. The Sheriff's refusal to address these claims has only intensified public scrutiny and speculation. These uncontroverted facts, backed up by court records, force the question: How much did the Sheriff's decision to ignore the human trafficking task force in Waynesboro have to do with the fact that human trafficking victims were being forced to live in his gym bros basement?
Unanswered Questions and the Pursuit of Truth
The repeated silence from Sheriff Smith concerning his involvement and the perceived preferential treatment afforded to Chujoy raises concerns about transparency in the administration of justice. This is perhaps made worse by Chujoy's repeated performances in the criminal justice arena. Meanwhile was Chujoy just very lucky to avoid decades in prison in Staunton, or was something other than luck at work? That, dear reader, is a question you will have to decide for yourself. You can hear from Chujoy's victims in the video here.
Celebrating Successes While Demanding Accountability While the Staunton Task Force's relentless efforts have undeniably made the community safer, the unresolved questions surrounding Chujoy's case and his relationship with Sheriff Smith emphasize the need for unyielding vigilance and transparency. Every individual, regardless of their station or connections, must be held to the same standards of justice. Breaking Through News remains unwavering in its commitment to uncovering the truth, believing that the pillars of justice, accountability, and transparency must stand tall and unblemished to truly safeguard our community.