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Dave Ruttenberg Deserves Justice

By Greg L | 22 December 2006 | Rack & Roll Scandal | 9 Comments

Over the past months I’ve reported on the few news items from Manassas Park I find are interesting, mostly stuff that I find in the local papers, and occasionally things that I’m told by residents or local insiders. One of those stories has been the ongoing enmity between Dave Ruttenberg, the proprietor of Rack & Roll Billiards and the City of Manassas Park. To an outsider like me, it’s seemed a bit like a comedy at times. The city sues itself, there are unusual happenings like big SWAT-style raids which result in the discovery embarrasingly little, and then there’s this strange gambling referendum that happens every so often and which vaulted Steve Chapman into prominence during it’s last iteration. The story that keeps coming back up often seems to be either Rack & Roll or, when the required time period has passed, another shot at legalizing off-track betting in Manassas Park, of all places.

So I’ve been taking some time to dig into this and find out what’s going on. It started out as curiosity, became concern, and has ended up as outrage. Until this matter is concluded, I will be spending a fair amount of time on Dave Ruttenberg’s story. Citizens need to hear what has happened here, and have enough information to call to account those who have committed what I believe to be one of the most outrageous abuses of government’s power I have ever heard of.

I’ve had the chance to meet Dave Ruttenberg, who has been kind enough to haul out folder after folder of evidence which includes sworn statements, video footage, contracts, and other evidence that documents a history of official harassment that goes back at least ten years. He has been careful to restrict what he has shown me to documented evidence, to not try to explain why the outrages committed against him have occurred, and to provide me with every opportunity to independently verify what I have seen. And the more I dig into this, the more outrageous this story becomes.

After seeing this evidence, checking what I could, and finding some corroborating information that Mr. Ruttenberg hadn’t yet discovered, the only conclusion I can arrive at is that Mr. Ruttenberg has been subjected to an ongoing campaign of illegal harassment by various officials within the government of the City of Manassas Park who have been motivated by the prospect of personal enrichment if Colonial Downs could be permitted to open an off-track betting facility. This is a story of rampant and widespread corruption among public officials, and a man who stood in the way of their plans to use their positions in order to profit from Colonial Downs’ plans. I believe they tried to take down David Ruttenberg in order to protect their plans, which might have made them millionaires. Now they’re stuck with what they’ve done, and Ruttenberg is a dangerous liability for them.

It’s a harrowing story. Dave Ruttenberg has lost his house, his investment properties, his fiancée and, for all intents and purposes, the business he devoted his adult life to building. Some stand to make millions if gambling is approved through land deals, construction contracts, food & beverage operations, and other related business operations. With the potential to inject tens of millions of dollars in annual revenues into the city business environment, and millions of dollars in annual tax payments towards the coffers of a financially challenged municipality, it’s a perfect storm that has descended on a fine businessman who tried, but failed, to find his place among the establishment insiders who would benefit.

During the coming weeks, as I am able to adequately confirm each piece of information I’ve been shown, I’ll be presenting this story to BVBL readers in addition to the normal political coverage you’ll find here. What I have seen, if properly investigated by the authorities, should reasonably lead to the criminal prosecution of an almost unprecedented number of public officials. David Ruttenberg has tried to use the courts to get this story told, and those courts have, for some reason, at least temporarily failed to allow a hearing of the evidence. Now it’s time for that evidence to be presented to the public in a different way, and over the next several weeks that will be done here. You can be the judge. You can see the story. And if you become as outraged as I have after seeing it, you can do something about it.

Get ready for a wild ride. It’s about time David Ruttenberg got some justice.

UPDATE: NovaTownHall has coverage on this here and here, and I understand Rodney Balko is doing some digging also. The Manassas Journal-Messenger appears to be in the hunt. Stay tuned…

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  1. Gurduloo said on 22 Dec 2006 at 8:30 pm:
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    How does Rack and Roll stand in the way of off track betting? I always thought gambling and pool halls went together like… uh… beer and cigarettes? Anyways… looking forward to more info.

  2. Greg L said on 23 Dec 2006 at 12:51 am:
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    More info is definitely coming. Until I can provide the details, let me drop a hint or two…

    We know there was only one sensible location where the betting facility could be made. We can reasonably presume that the current mall falls far short of the needs for this market, and that Colonial Downs would want to demolish the current mall and build something that would be more attractive to the Northern Virginia residents. What would happen if someone could be in a position to put this plan at risk, which would result in increased costs, lost revenue and risk revocation of the Colonial Downs license for nonperformance? And what would happen if this person had competitive advantages for providing ancillary services to Colonial Downs, services that insiders might want to provide themselves?

    It would make a lot of people with vested financial interests very nervous. They could make a deal, or they could try to make the problem go away. The “go away” option seems to have been the choice.

    Coming up… Let’s go to the videotape! How did the Manassas Park Government try to make this problem go away…

  3. TC said on 23 Dec 2006 at 1:52 am:
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    Seems that until the citizens approve the measure all the rest is sorta mute aint it?

    But from what you and Radley Balco have revealed, there is a bit much being left out. This brings on a whole new dimension to fighting city hall don’t it?

    Also according to the potential money that could be made here it seems foolish to harass to the depths of the universe a single business for gains that a) require the voters to approve… b) what sum the current lease holder is asking is paltry! 0.0000002% of the first years revenues for acquisition, oh and do check my math as it’s not my strong point. But the claim is for 90 mil in rev, and at a cost of 5 mill for the lease.

    I think somebody has a bigger problem with somebody messed around with my lady. As well they may not like his politics either.

  4. Anonon said on 23 Dec 2006 at 6:41 am:
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    The Agitator posted the detailed story last night, saying he wanted to beat you to the punch.

  5. I raided RNR and all I got was a lousy t-shirt said on 23 Dec 2006 at 8:51 am:
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    There’s plenty more ……trust me.

  6. charles said on 23 Dec 2006 at 1:43 pm:
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    I wonder if circulating videos on YouTube might generate more publicity.

    I have no evidence, just asking the obvious question — any chance there’s opposition to RNR driven by people who were opposed to gambling but are also opposed to drinking and pool-playing?

    This is the kind of story a small-time reporter can ride to a real career with a major newspaper, so I’m surprised it can’t get more traction. On the other hand, a small-town reporter may not want to be on the wrong side of a 90-member police task force — not sure I would want to be.

  7. AWCheney said on 23 Dec 2006 at 2:15 pm:
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    Charles, I’ve been looking into this since about Feb./March of last year. In the process I have personally witnessed much of what you have read, and are about to read. I first became aware of this upon reading Radley Balko’s original post on the Agitator (found from a link that Jim Riley had provided on TC when he was still there) and I sent an email to Frank Jones (mayor of MP) suggesting that he should read it because it sounded like his police department was out of control and he needed to look into the facts. The email I received from him in return was really strange, including his refusal to even look at the blog much less look into the facts of the situation. Wrong thing to say to someone who has been involved in politics as long as me. The rest is a long story which you might want to keep reading here and elsewhere over the next few weeks. I’m sure you’ll be as shocked as I’ve been for almost a year.

  8. mike said on 23 Dec 2006 at 6:43 pm:
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    hehe, it is Radley Balko, and he has been looking into this situation for a bit. Good luck to the both of you!

  9. The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive » Latest Police Harassment said on 23 Dec 2006 at 7:35 pm:
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    […] here. Bookmark to: Posted By: mike @ 4:33 pm || Permalink || || Categories: General TrackBack URI:http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/12/23/latest-police-harassment/trackback/ Read more posts from mike • • • […]

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