Sonnett case against Rapp supervisors, county attorney dismissed by Judge Parker

Unlike three other conflict of interest lawsuits filed on behalf of clients against the Rappahannock County government by private attorney David Konick since 2016, it didn’t take long for the latest case — Harris Hollow resident George Sonnett’s suit against three Board of Supervisors and County Attorney Art Goff — to be dismissed by Rappahannock Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker.

The case, which rang in 2019, was dismissed during court proceedings Thursday after Judge Parker sustained one dispositive demurrer.

“We’ll keep chipping away at the rest of the cases,” Goff assured in an email to county officials.

Robert T. “Bob” Mitchell, Jr., a Winchester lawyer representing the BOS, appeared in court Thursday for legal arguments on the demurrers he filed on behalf of the Board and each respondent board member, as did counsel for Goff on behalf of the county attorney.

As Mitchell noted later, upon conclusion of the arguments Judge Parker sustained the demurrers to the entire case, dismissing it with prejudice (meaning a case is dismissed permanently, as the plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim).

Mitchell is now tasked with preparing a Final Order, which he assumes will conclude the case once and for all.

In his Petition for Declaratory Judgment, Sonnett had charged the three supervisors and Goff with violating the state’s Conflict of Interest Act (COIA) on several occasions last year when considering the appointment of Peter Luke as Deputy County Attorney — ironically to help handle the workload of previous lawsuits filed against the Rappahannock County government.

Sonnett’s petition alleged that Supervisors John Lesinski (Hampton), Chris Parrish (Stonewall-Hawthorne) and Chair Roger Welch (Wakefield) violated COIA by not stating “personal interests” they had in Luke’s hiring.

As for the other suits, Gid Brown Hollow llama farmer Marian Bragg sued the BOS in 2016 and in 2017, both times alleging that the supervisors violated Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Also in 2017, Amissville resident Tom Woolman accused Lesinski of repeatedly violating Virginia’s Conflict of Interest Act (COIA) in his official capacity as Rappahannock County School Board chairman and supervisor, by either not disqualifying himself from certain transactions or failing to disclose his economic interests in the transactions, as required by law.

Bragg, Woolman, and Sonnett have all been represented by Konick.

— John McCaslin and Patty Hardee

Staff/Contributed
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