State to investigate felon’s role in Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office has authorized the State Police to conduct an investigation into the role a convicted felon played in the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.

Isle of Wight Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer said Tuesday that the investigation into the department “as it relates to” the Jonathan Burns matter was authorized about a week ago.

Burns, a four-time convicted felon, worked for the sheriff’s office as a volunteer aide, but apparently carried a Taser, wore a uniform and badge and even participated in some arrests. After serving as a volunteer, Burns was hired in March in a support capacity, but has since been terminated.

Farmer, who requested the investigation after learning about Burns’ involvement with the sheriff’s office last month, declined to give any further details.

“Because it’s an ongoing investigation, we really can’t comment further,” he said.

A telephone message left for Sheriff C.W. “Charlie” Phelps at his office was not returned Tuesday.

Representatives for the Virginia State Police and the attorney general said they couldn’t comment on or even confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

However, Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, wrote in an e-mail that the office can authorize the Virginia State Police to investigate constitutional officers, if the State Police request.