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Let’s Go To The Video Tape! (#1)

By Greg L | 31 December 2006 | Rack & Roll Scandal | 29 Comments

Let me show you a little story.

Behind the bar is Dave Ruttenberg, owner of The Rack & Roll Billiard Club in Manassas Park. He called the police about twenty minutes ago, and they just showed up. In front of the bar is a Mr. Robert Reed, who is being thrown out of the place for trying to use cocaine, and is being surprisingly nice by calmly paying his bill. Behind Mr. Reed is Manassas Park Police Officer Mosher, who has responded to the call, along with another officer by the name of Officer Qasi.

Here you can see that Dave Ruttenberg is a little agitated about all of this. I imagine he’s inviting Robert Reed and his drug buddy Carl Turner to not return, and perhaps to enjoy the time they’ll be spending as guests of the city this evening.

Now Officers Mosher and Qasi are escorting the two suspects out of Rack & Roll. Note that they haven’t yet been searched for drugs or weapons, which I believe is standard protocol.

And here the suspects and the officers exit. The two white cars facing the camera are the officer’s cars. Across the way are two cars which are this evening’s supervisors. The one with it’s lights on is a blue Crown Vic, just like the one Chief Evans drives. Looks like there’s plenty of assistance available for these officers if they need it.

Here the officers seem to be having a conversation with the two suspects. Note they STILL haven’t been searched. No one has come out of the other cars, either. Hmmm.

And now the suspects walk away, without so much as a summons, and having not been searched. Isn’t that absolutely bizarre? And it seems that the Chief of Police is just sitting there watching, just to make sure everything goes right.

The police refused to take physical evidence or witness statements from Dave Ruttenberg or his employees, and the two suspects were never charged with a crime. They walked away after a friendly conversation with a couple of Manassas Park’s finest. What friendly treatment they give to persons suspected of snorting cocaine in public, with lots of witnesses and plenty of physical evidence. And given how calm they appeared to be after getting caught red-handed doing something this utterly stupid and wrong, it sure looks like they weren’t expecting much in the way of consequences for their behavior. Either that, or drug users seem to know something about law enforcement in Manassas Park that the rest of us do not.

I am told that these two fine gentlemen were paid informants of the Manassas Park Police Department. They were sent on one of many similar errands to use or deal drugs in Rack & Roll with other informants or undercover police officers, all of which were directed by the Manassas Park Police Department. If the police department could engage in enough drug activity at Rack & Roll, it sure would create the impression that decent citizens would want to stay away from there, and in effect ruin the reputation of a local businessman. I believe that is exactly what happened.

The full video of the escapade inside is here, and here is the full exterior video. There’s more to come — this happened far too many times, and there’s lots of video to share.

Also, check out this post on the flimsy legal basis for the raid at Rack & Roll. Yes, there’s a pattern here.

UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION: In reviewing the stories I’ve done on Rack & Roll in connection to litigation threats from the city of Manassas Park, I’d like to make a couple of clarifications on this article.

The two informants seen in the video tape I believe are private investigators, and one would assume that someone paid them to do what is shown in the video tape, since charity work in this case is a rather remote possibility at best. My assumption is that they were paid by the Manassas Park Police Department, which by all appearances was responsible for coordinating this action. When I said that “they were sent on one of many similar errands”, I am referring to the group of informants who worked for the Manassas Park Police Department and the Joint Narcotics Task Force, not specifically to these two individuals. Other posts which describe the activities of Jeffrey Price, Tom Kifer, Chris Price, Jason Brooks and others provide conclusive evidence to support my opinions in this regard.

I apologize for not being sufficiently clear in this post.



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29 Comments

  1. ApsuVictoria said on 31 Dec 2006 at 4:23 am:
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    I have seen first hand how much time, effort, and priority that has been put into hurting Dave’s business. Personally I find the actions of police to be scary and disgusting.

    Our United States of America was founded on justice and morals. Now its fueled by power and greed. “Rats get fat while good men die”. I think this should be a huge wake up call to voters in Manassas Park and all over our country. I feel this is a problem that goes all the way up the political food chain.

    I wish Dave, his family, and all the American people justice in this matter.

  2. Alton Foley said on 31 Dec 2006 at 8:13 am:
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    Keep up the good work Greg, this is fascinating.

  3. Ben Palmer said on 31 Dec 2006 at 4:49 pm:
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    How come nobody tries to accuse the police officers of actively supporting drug abuse in their city? Somebody surely must be able to shed some light on the relationship between the police and the two informants.

  4. AWCheney said on 31 Dec 2006 at 6:53 pm:
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    The answer, Mr. Palmer, is corruption…and the real question is, how high up does it go. This is why the authorities are so fearful of discovery in a court of law…an entire house of cards may come tumbling down.

  5. Greg L said on 31 Dec 2006 at 11:39 pm:
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    From what I’ve heard, there’s a practice of releasing convicts from jail in order to have them perform missions for the police department where they’ve engaged in drug deals. At Rack & Roll, to the best of my knowledge all of the drug activity was instigated by the police department.

    That’s pretty stunning if you think about it for a moment. The police department trying to create a culture of drug dealing in the jurisdiction they’ve sworn to protect? That can’t be in the best interests of the citizens.

  6. a nonny moue said on 1 Jan 2007 at 2:43 am:
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    Look at it from their point of view–if they create a culture of drug dealing, that means budgets must be increased to hire officers, increase salaries, buy more equipment, etc. to solve this problem.

    Never mind that this problem was created by the very people charged with solving it.

    Getting Ruttenburg out of town is just the icing on the cake.

    It’s not about protecting citizens. It’s about lining pockets with money.

  7. Anonymous said on 1 Jan 2007 at 11:12 am:
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    This establishment is clearly a haven for illicit activity and should be shut down. I can’t believe someone like him is allowed to run such a negative enterprise so close to a residential area where children live.

  8. AWCheney said on 1 Jan 2007 at 11:24 am:
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    Well, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, clearly you are a member of “the establishment.” Would you care to make further comments from your side?…perhaps even in your own name?

  9. AWCheney said on 1 Jan 2007 at 12:14 pm:
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    Oh yes, and btw Anonymous, I have lived in Prince William County for 45 years and have been a very active and respected member of the community for all that time. When I started checking into this situation with Rack N’ Roll, I became so impressed by how safe David kept it (except from the police) that I felt secure in encouraging my 18 year old and above kids to go there if they felt the need for a very late night out. I happen to be VERY protective of my kids. Of course I did warn them to call me if they had any difficulty with police harrassment so that I could notify my friend, Glen Hill.

  10. TwoCentsWorth said on 1 Jan 2007 at 1:20 pm:
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    This cesspool of police activity is a lot more common than you might think. It has existed at lesser levels for many years in my area (metropolitan St. Louis).
    The situation has almost always been instigated by politicians who are “wired” into the police dept, and are willing to crucify anyone to fill the old pockets a little more. I have always maintained that the “snitch” form of government along with plea-bargaining would produce this kind of abuse and it looks like these guys have perfected the system.

  11. Robert S said on 2 Jan 2007 at 12:59 am:
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    Would someone please just think about the CHILDREN???? LOL Anonymous, thanks for the laugh - its great fun to hear one American try to deny the rights of another American by bleating about THE CHILLED RIEN!!!

    Sigh… Well, as with most that blithely toss out that kind of rhetoric, your main accusation is mighty ambiguous. Would it be possible for you to explain what, exactly you mean by ‘illicit activity,’ what specific evidence you have to support that claim and perhaps even justify why you feel the town should shut this man’s business down?

  12. jack rand said on 2 Jan 2007 at 5:01 am:
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    Well Robert S. I think it is pretty clear that Anonymous is referring to Mr. Ruttenbergs insistance on inviting police in to his establichment. It seems obvious at this point that any place in Manassas Park that is teaming with police is by definition teaming with illicit activity. I cannot understand why Mr. Rutternberg upon discovering men snorting coke in the middle of his facility immediatly calls the cokeheads dealers to his establishment (or maybe I’m missing the point anonymous is trying to make).

  13. AWCheney said on 2 Jan 2007 at 5:33 am:
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    Mr. Rand, David has always tried to do the right thing with regard to cooperating with the authorities, which makes what they have done to him even more heinous. What else could he, as a business owner, do but call the police when he discovered criminals, and criminal activity, on his premises. What would you have done?

  14. Greg L said on 2 Jan 2007 at 9:18 am:
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    JR: “It seems obvious at this point that any place in Manassas Park that is teaming with police is by definition teaming with illicit activity.”

    I think this is overstating things quite a bit. I would be shocked to discover that the majority of the Manassas Park police department is crooked, and I can’t imagine that could possibly be the case. Whether a substantial portion of the leadership in the city and in the police department is remains an open question, but I assume a majority of the rank-and-file Manassas Park police officers are good cops and good people.

    I just wonder what it takes to get an official investigation actually moving by the FBI or the state. How much more am I going to have to put online?

  15. Anonymous said on 2 Jan 2007 at 2:07 pm:
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    Greg L –

    The Virginia AG’s Office really doesn’t have a division that deals with local political corruption.

    Instead, send all your links and any information you would like to include (unfortunately it can’t be e-mailed, it must be hard copy sent USPS) to:

    U.S. Attorney’s Office — Eastern Virginia
    Asst. US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg
    Justin W. Williams US Attorney’s Building
    2100 Jamieson Avenue
    Alexandria, Virginia 22314

    ph 703.299.3700 fax 703.299.2584

    They have a local political corruption unit that has been very effective across the Commonwealth — they’ll coordinate with the FBI. Their Richmond office under Asst. US Attorney Comey FINALLY cleaned up Richmond City Government. Former Mayor Leonidis Young (Fed prison — embezzlement, Former City Councilman Chuck Richardson (Fed prison — heroin), Former Councilwoman Gwen Hedgepeth (Fed prison — taking political bribes) former Mayoral Chief of Staff Joel Harris (Fed prison — bank fraud)….those were just the big names. Department heads have also been tried, convicted, and sentenced over the years.

    That is what finally brought about the sweeping changes and political will to set the stage for Doug Wilder’s election to Mayor-at large (instead of chosen among Council members) to finish the job of cleaning up the mess. Maybe a good clean sweep of Manassas Park will create enough political will to eliminate Manassas Park as an independant political entity and have it absorbed back into Prince William County, or at the very LEAST remove the cancer of corruption and send them to “Camp Fed.”

  16. Anonon said on 2 Jan 2007 at 3:43 pm:
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    “Maybe a good clean sweep of Manassas Park will create enough political will to eliminate Manassas Park as an independant political entity and have it absorbed back into Prince William County, or at the very LEAST remove the cancer of corruption and send them to “Camp Fed.””

    Nice. This is the kind of rhetoric I have feared. I purposely didn’t move to PWC proper. We limited our home search to Manassas Park and Manassas because we wanted to be part of a smaller school system and community. That is my fear - that this crap, wherever it comes from, will destroy that. Makes me wonder if outside forces are motivating all this. I know, I know - you have evidence, Ruttenberg is a saint, and I am fool for believing in my community. Investigate, report people, have it investigated further, bring charges and lawsuits - I really don’t care. But don’t even suggest that my town should be folded back into PWC - I would fight like hell against it. And I don’t think I am alone in that sentiment.

  17. AWCheney said on 2 Jan 2007 at 3:53 pm:
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    Then perhaps good people shouldn’t have turned a blind eye to this for so long. If they hadn’t, perhaps it would never have been allowed to go this far.

  18. a nonny mouse said on 2 Jan 2007 at 4:15 pm:
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    I used to agree that MP shouldn’t be folded back into PWC but frankly I’m not so sure anymore.

  19. Anonon said on 2 Jan 2007 at 4:34 pm:
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    And do you live here?

  20. Greg L said on 2 Jan 2007 at 4:44 pm:
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    I’ve broached the topic of retrocession only because I’m concerned about the long-term financial stability of Manassas Park City as an independent entity. Otherwise, I’m a fan of keeping local government small, responsive and accountable. I’m pretty sure that most others here would agree with that.

    Right now the residential/commercial tax base ratio is about 85%/15% which is severely out of line with what other financially stable localities tend to have. MP has an A+ bond rating, which makes it really difficult for the city to borrow when it needs to. These are tough challenges.

    In the face of these challenges the allure of bringing in some sort of “white knight” such as OTB to fill in the financing gaps puts residents in a real bind. They may not want to see their taxes raised through the roof, and the quick-fix alternative of local gambling is about the only short-term solution. Of course it has major downsides, some of which we’re seeing in this story.

    I hope MP residents will consider all the options as they navigate through all of this. None of them are easy. All of them have impacts. The menu of available options may be shrinking, however.

  21. Anonon said on 2 Jan 2007 at 7:53 pm:
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    I appreciate your perspective Greg, but if this has served any purpose, it has been to fire me up to do more here in Manassas Park to help keep this an independent jurisdiction. I think this whole blogging experience leads me to never, ever want to run for political office (not a chance would I expose myself or my family to this), but I am going to be doing some more volunteering to build a better community.

    I also hesistated to weigh in on the officers pictured, feeling that they needed their privacy. Officer Mosher accompanied me to court and offered his testimony on my behalf when I was a victim of a minor crime - he was nothing less than professional and supportive throughout the court process. Officer Qazi is our community relations officer and has been visible and helpful in my neighborhood as well. They are good men and I continue to respect them and their efforts in Manassas Park.

  22. Anonymous said on 2 Jan 2007 at 9:48 pm:
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    This is why it’s appropriate to talk about ways to clean up the local corruption in the same sentence as the possibility of Manassas Park being re-absorbed back into Prince William County.

    If the good citizens of Manassas Park want to stay a viable independent entity with ANY hope at all of attracting and expanding the commercial tax base, then there needs to be a public outcry to end this obvious local political corruption. It needs to start with contacting the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria to begin the long, overdue probe of this tavesty of justice. You will NEVER get an investigation started on the local or state level — they just won’t get involved.

    “Ignore it, it will go away” won’t work in this situation. Fixing it before it’s too late can begin from within (by Manassas Park residents asking the federal authorities for help), or can be left to outsiders to take the initiative once things get so bad and corrupt that the jurisdiction can no longer function legitimately. I guess from some of these comments above that one possible outcome (retrocession of the City back into the County) won’t sit too well with alot of the citizenery.

  23. a nonny mouse said on 2 Jan 2007 at 10:19 pm:
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    Yes, I live here. I have watched my property taxes more than double in 5 years.

  24. a nonny mouse said on 2 Jan 2007 at 10:25 pm:
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    By the way, I was a little leery about buying a house in Manassas Park (living in this area for 19 years–PW County and then Manassas, I couldn’t possibly miss the reputation, undeserved or not, that Manassas Park has) but I did anyway.

  25. Anonymous said on 25 Feb 2007 at 9:04 am:
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    Next time some asshat wants to do some coke in/on the bar, grab a pool cue and smack them one.
    Tell the cops (if they show up to investigate) that he was doing coke, and you want him searched right there in front of witnesses who saw him doing it.

  26. Philly Phorever said on 25 Feb 2007 at 10:09 pm:
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    What if the “suspects” (remember everyone is innocent until proven guilty) snorted all of the evidence? The officers would look silly in court trying to justify arresting someone based on hearsay. Yes, the owner may have seen them snorting, but without evidence the case to incarcerate them is futile.

  27. Greg L said on 25 Feb 2007 at 10:23 pm:
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    The police were offered the evidence, but they refused to take it. They didn’t even confiscate what by all appearances was cocaine and left it at Rack & Roll, where they destroyed it.

    What if the “suspects” were actually working for the police? Does that seem plausible, given the circumstances here?

  28. David Ruttenberg said on 1 Mar 2007 at 10:53 pm:
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    Our private investigator has the evidence secured in his custody.

  29. Chrissy said on 26 Jul 2007 at 5:41 am:
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    Just a thought-Has anyone of you requested to ride along with an officer on their shift? Maybe that can give us some insight to what the officers go through on their shift. I grew up in Manassas Park and knew most of the officers. Even though the City has grown, the police force has not.

    Well, maybe their police headquarters has, but not the man power. If the few officers they have are either busy assisting another citizen on their emergency of course it will take longer to respond to other incidents. I imagine the dispatcher would know how to prioritze the calls that come in.

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