Sheriff opens up

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011


ISLE OF WIGHT—When Isle of Wight County Sheriff Charles Phelps walked off the job Thursday, he did so, he said, out of frustration over recent events involving his office.

Before returning to work Friday, Phelps wrote a letter on recent professional and personal events, which he published on his website

“The motivation came when I needed a way to express myself,” he said Tuesday. “I have been very quiet and calm during this campaign time, and there’s been a lot of negative press about me, which has not been proven. I felt that I should have an opportunity to say the way I believe and know the way things are.”

He added that writing the letter “relieved my tension a little bit.”

So far, Phelps has received no response to the letter.

“I’ve been busy on the job and not seen any reaction,” he said. “I heard from Channel 10, but not from any citizens.”

After acknowledging gratitude to his supporters, Phelps stated in his letter that he wants to serve an eighth term, but there are “circumstances that might prevent this from happening.”

On Sept. 16, Virginia State Police searched the Smithfield home of former Deputy Matthew Aaron Lyons for child pornography. Phelps reported Lyons to police after learning about a suspicious email on a common department computer that allegedly came from Lyon’s Yahoo account.

Lyons, 21, resigned three days later.

Also in the letter, Phelps acknowledged the ongoing State Police investigation of his son, Capt. Paul Phelps, and Jonathan Burns. Paul Phelps was indicted in May for allegedly knowing Burns, a convicted felon, illegally possessed a weapon while volunteering in the sheriff’s department. Burns was indicted for possession of a firearm by a felon. He was hired in March 2010 in a support capacity.

“My son has been accused of a crime he did not commit and I have been accused of various things I have not done,” Sheriff Phelps wrote. “All I have done my whole career is try to help people. I am not ashamed of what I did.”

Phelps also took issue with Smithfield Police Chief Mark Marshall, who’s running for sheriff, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer, Franklin Police Chief Phil Hardison and The Smithfield Times Publisher John Edwards. The latter three, Phelps says, are in collusion to support Marshall.

“I am going through a lot of emotional feelings at this time,” Phelps wrote. “I am still your sheriff until which time my current term expires. I will still oversee the sheriff’s office until you decide who the next sheriff will be. I hope it will be me as I still want to be your Sheriff. If that is not to be, then I will decide what path to take to bring peace back into my family. As for right now I am spending a lot of time in thought and prayer.”