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Time To Have Mark Wolfe Arrested

By Greg L | 8 July 2013 | Crime, Manassas City | 34 Comments

So it would appear we have conflicting views about what a statute of criminal law means in Manassas.  The proper venue to determine the correct interpretation of the law is a court, and the first step towards having that happen (in the absence of a Commonwealth’s Attorney concerned in any way with doing his job) is for a citizen to swear out a warrant for Mark Wolfe’s arrest for willful violations of the Virginia Code.  Let’s turn this over to a court to decide if the law actually means what it says.

Tonight the Manassas City Council had a “re-vote” regarding appropriations to non-governmental entities that was done during the last City Council meeting.  One of the entities that the council awarded money to was the Manassas Ballet, an entity that pays a salary to his wife and of which he is the Executive Director.  That vote passed 4-2 this time, as it did before, with Wolfe voting in favor both times.  The only difference between that vote and this one was that this time Wolfe disclosed his personal financial interest in the outcome of this vote tonight as he is required to do under Virginia Code § 2.2-3115(F).

At least we have a formal recognition by Wolfe that a personal conflict of interest exists and that Virginia’s conflicts of interest laws apply to this vote.

Let’s take a look for a moment at what the Virginia Code says about conflicts of interest.

§ 2.2-3112. Prohibited conduct concerning personal interest in a transaction; exceptions.A. Each officer and employee of any state or local governmental or advisory agency who has a personal interest in a transaction:

1. Shall disqualify himself from participating in the transaction if (i) the transaction has application solely to property or a business or governmental agency in which he has a personal interest or a business that has a parent-subsidiary or affiliated business entity relationship with the business in which he has a personal interest or (ii) he is unable to participate pursuant to subdivision 2, 3 or 4. Any disqualification under the provisions of this subdivision shall be recorded in the public records of the officer’s or employee’s governmental or advisory agency. The officer or employee shall disclose his personal interest as required by subsection E of § 2.2-3114 or subsection F of § 2.2-3115 and shall not vote or in any manner act on behalf of his agency in the transaction. The officer or employee shall be prohibited from (i) attending any portion of a closed meeting authorized by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) when the matter in which he has a personal interest is discussed and (ii) discussing the matter in which he has a personal interest with other governmental officers or employees at any time;

2. May participate in the transaction if he is a member of a business, profession, occupation, or group of three or more persons the members of which are affected by the transaction, and he complies with the declaration requirements of subsection F of § 2.2-3114 or subsection H of § 2.2-3115;

3. May participate in the transaction when a party to the transaction is a client of his firm if he does not personally represent or provide services to such client and he complies with the declaration requirements of subsection G of § 2.2-3114 or subsection I of § 2.2-3115; or

4. May participate in the transaction if it affects the public generally, even though his personal interest, as a member of the public, may also be affected by that transaction.

B. Disqualification under the provisions of this section shall not prevent any employee having a personal interest in a transaction in which his agency is involved from representing himself or a member of his immediate family in such transaction provided he does not receive compensation for such representation and provided he complies with the disqualification and relevant disclosure requirements of this chapter.

C. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if disqualifications of officers or employees in accordance with this section leave less than the number required by law to act, the remaining member or members shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of business and have authority to act for the agency by majority vote, unless a unanimous vote of all members is required by law, in which case authority to act shall require a unanimous vote of remaining members. Notwithstanding any provisions of this chapter to the contrary, members of a local governing body whose sole interest in any proposed sale, contract of sale, exchange, lease or conveyance is by virtue of their employment by a business involved in a proposed sale, contract of sale, exchange, lease or conveyance, and where such member’s or members’ vote is essential to a constitutional majority required pursuant to Article VII, Section 9 of the Constitution of Virginia and § 15.2-2100, such member or members of the local governing body may vote and participate in the deliberations of the governing body concerning whether to approve, enter into or execute such sale, contract of sale, exchange, lease or conveyance. Official action taken under circumstances that violate this section may be rescinded by the agency on such terms as the interests of the agency and innocent third parties require.

D. The provisions of subsection A shall not prevent an officer or employee from participating in a transaction merely because such officer or employee is a party in a legal proceeding of a civil nature concerning such transaction.

E. The provisions of subsection A shall not prevent an employee from participating in a transaction regarding textbooks or other educational material for students at state institutions of higher education, when those textbooks or materials have been authored or otherwise created by the employee.
(emphasis added)

Wolfe complied with Section 1 above right up to the point where I’ve bolded the text.  Then he voted to award the Manassas Ballet a huge chunk of taxpayer money anyways.

But what about all the rest of that stuff in that code section you might ask?  Well, since I’m not an attorney I decided to go to the attorneys that supposedly know about this stuff and looked up the publication by the Virginia Municipal League about conflicts of interest, but it’s always helpful to at least read the law through once before looking at attorneys talking about it.  Now that we’ve hopefully not skimmed past all that, let’s see how VML’s attorneys describe how it works:

The fact that a council member has a personal interest in a transaction before council does not automatically require that the member disqualify himself or herself.  The act’s requirements for participation, if a personal interest in the transaction does exist, set out three levels of transactions. § 2.2-3112.A.

1. If the transaction deals solely with property, a business, or a government agency in which the council member has a personal interest, then the council member must disqualify himself or herself. The provision further states that disqualification is required if the transaction applies solely to a business that is a parent subsidiary (holds more than a 50% controlling interest) or considered an affiliated business (where the same owner or manager controls both businesses) to the business that in which the council member has a personal interest. 

2. If the transaction affects a business, profession, occupation or group of three or more members that the council member belongs to, the council member may participate in the transaction only if he or she completes a disclosure form, described in the “Disclosures” section. § 2.2-3112.A.2. For example, if a council votes on the tax rate for professionals, and if the council member is an attorney, that puts him in the subject group affected by the professional license tax. If a town only has two attorneys, then the council member/attorney must disqualify himself or herself from participating.

3. If the transaction affects the public generally, the council member may participate. A council member may obviously vote on raising taxes, even though it affects him or her, because it affects the public generally. In comparing items 2 and 3, many transactions are considered to affect the public generally, even though not every member of the public is affected. For example, the real estate tax applies only to property owners, but it is considered to affect the general public.

Wolfe has clearly disclosed that a conflict of interest exists according to the above, so what should he do under the law?  Again, VML has a pretty easy-to-understand process:

If a council member is disqualified from participating in a transaction, the act requires several steps. § 2.2-3112: 

1. The council member must disclose the interest that causes the disqualification by identifying the interest, including the name and address of the business or property. § 2.2-3115.E. The disclosure is required whether the law requires the disqualification or the council member voluntarily disqualifies himself out of an abundance of caution.

2. The disclosure must be kept for five years in the records of the council.

3. The council member may not vote on or participate in discussion on the transaction.

4. The council member may not attend the portion of a closed meeting at which the transaction is discussed.

5. The council member may not discuss the matter with anyone in the government who is involved in the transaction. 

(emphasis added)

So it would seem that not only me, but the Virginia Municipal League’s attorneys would agree that Wolfe has willfully violated the law here.  Whether Wolfe is hiding behind the skirts of City Attorney Martin Crim here on this is immaterial - Wolfe is personally liable for any criminal behavior he commits regardless of who told him it was or was not legal to engage in that behavior.  If you or I break the law and commit a criminal act, we can’t escape accountability for that simply because we got bad legal advice from an overpaid hack.  Wolfe apparently thinks his behavior did not violate the law, and City Attorney Crim probably believes the same thing seeing as he once again sat on his hands while Wolfe was breaking the law.  Seeing as Crim screwed up and let Wolfe vote for this appropriation at the last Council Meeting without even disclosing a conflict of interest, which is the whole reason for this “re-vote”, we’ve already determined that Crim’s legal qualities are sketchy at best.

If you believe as I that there’s a reasonable basis to conclude that Mark Wolfe’s behavior was in fact illegal, your duty as a citizen is to go to the office of the Magistrate at Prince William County District Court and swear out a warrant for Wolfe’s arrest.  Swearing out a warrant based on an honest and reasonable belief that a violation of the law has occurred is a noble act of good citizenship, and not something that any decent citizen should approach with any degree of fear or trepidation.  You can’t be punished for reporting a crime unless you are making false statements or otherwise trying to abuse the justice system.  You’ve had a chance to review both the facts and the law here, and if you are convinced there is reason for a court to consider that Mark Wolfe may be guilty of a crime, you really have no moral option here.  Your duty as a citizen compels you to act to protect your fellow citizens and uphold the rule of law.

I believe a resident of the City of Manassas should be the one to do this as this is their City Council and their government.  I live in the county and don’t vote for these councilmembers.  Otherwise I’d gladly be there at District Court tomorrow asking to see the magistrate.  If you want some company as you make the trip, let me know and I’d be happy to come with you, though.

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  1. Really? said on 9 Jul 2013 at 6:45 am:
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    I have lost all respect for these shameless money grabbers and the feckless Mayor and council members who support him and his wife with my tax money.

  2. Anonymous said on 9 Jul 2013 at 7:06 am:
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    Wolfe clearly participated in the discussion before the vote in “trashing” the center for the arts by saying they get more city cash and that Amy’s ballet “does more”. He did not explain his non-votes on funding in previous years when he had the 4th yes vote of Cheryl Bass or Amy’s email to ballet parents asking “supporters” to show up to support them and contact council members. That discussion would have been most interesting.

  3. G Man said on 9 Jul 2013 at 7:19 am:
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    Washington Post Jeremy Borden’s article: “Manassas City Council member Mark Wolfe votes to fund his own arts organization” is currently on the front page of the website.


  4. anon said on 9 Jul 2013 at 11:21 am:
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    ASTONISHING! Looks like Manassas and PW residents enjoy getting fleeced. Too bad that we don’t have a real news agency or publication around here (not that we did before…). If the average person were to open a newspaper with an article like this one on the front page, maybe folks might start a groundswell to have Wolfe removed from office - and just maybe they could convince Corey and his bunch of knuckleheads that they are liable, too, for knowingly supporting the guy. Manassas City Council may suspect this (at least Aveni and Lovejoy probably have reminded them), but Hal’s Pals are going to go on looking the other way and blowing their noses until they get into real trouble.

    What kind of BOZOs are in charge here? It takes only a single citizen to go to the Magistrate.

  5. Julian said on 9 Jul 2013 at 1:09 pm:
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    Unfortunately honest disclosures are in short supply with va politicians. From the governor and AG’s offices all the way down to city councils, they can’t seem to admit they’re all breaking the law

  6. anon said on 9 Jul 2013 at 2:39 pm:
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    julian: you are correct about that. Also, every corrupt politician knows that the best thing to do in the face of such accusations is to sit tight and say nothing. These skunks don’t respond (probably on the advice of their attorneys), because they know that, each time, we the people will just let the problem blow over. I don’t live in Manassas, or I would be happy to start the proceedings.

  7. Tortfeasor said on 9 Jul 2013 at 3:10 pm:
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    Violation of any of these code sections is considered a misdemeanor.

  8. Bub said on 9 Jul 2013 at 3:37 pm:
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    Please don’t jump on me if I’m wrong, just correct me. Even if the code was violated, I’m not sure it necessarily follows that it’s a criminal violation. Here’s why: I do not know the answer but does the code explicitly state that a violation of this particular code section is a misdemeanor or felony? If not, then maybe it cannot be considered a crime. In other words, there may be civil statutes which, if violated, are not necessarily criminal violations but merely civil violations. Also, I assume (but of course do know know) that he requested advice from the city attorney, and that he did not operate contrary to that advice, such that it would be difficult to establish any sort of criminal or knowining intent sufficient to support a finding of a criminal violation, assuming the code even provides for criminal violations. To be sure, I don’t suggest I know the answers but the questions seem relevant.

  9. Bub said on 9 Jul 2013 at 3:42 pm:
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    I was writing while torfeasor was posting. His posting seems to address my question. Another question for tortfeasor: Does it require a wilfull or knowing violation or is it silent on intent? If it’s silent on intent does that mean no intent is necessary or is a degree of intent or scienter always necessary?

  10. Greg L said on 9 Jul 2013 at 3:45 pm:
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    It is a Class 3 misdemeanor under 2-2.3120. In addition under § 2.2-3122 knowing violations could result in removal from office and a civil fine equal to the appropriation (§ 2.2-3124) as well as the appropriation would be reversed (§ 2.2-3123). Defendants can claim a violation is not a willful violation if badly advised by city legal counsel, however that claim could be rebutted.

    § 2.2-3120. Knowing violation of chapter a misdemeanor.

    Any person who knowingly violates any of the provisions of Articles 2 through 6 (§§ 2.2-3102 through 2.2-3119) of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, except that any member of a local governing body who knowingly violates subsection A of § 2.2-3112 or subsection D or F of § 2.2-3115 shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. A knowing violation under this section is one in which the person engages in conduct, performs an act or refuses to perform an act when he knows that the conduct is prohibited or required by this chapter.

  11. Anonymous said on 9 Jul 2013 at 5:51 pm:
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    I hear that Andy Harrover maintains the Manassas Ballet website, how much does that cost Mr. Wolfe you think? $23,000? Maybe the good councilman donates his time to the ballet for the website being as he “doesn’t have a dog in this fight”.

  12. 1st time poster said on 9 Jul 2013 at 6:05 pm:
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    I usually avoid this site due to my more moderate views. To be fair, you are corect on this issue and the vicious attacks on those councilmen who are exposing this corruption by other bloggers who don’t even use their real name and whom profess to not be ideologues is troubling and dishonest. Stop it Betsy, it is benenth you.

  13. Anonymous said on 9 Jul 2013 at 6:45 pm:
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    If the law isn’t going to be followed, what is the point of having the law? If politically powerful players can break the law without consequences where is the equality in our justice system. Where the heck is Paul Ebert in all this? Is breaking the law something only republicans do?

    “There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money – if a gun is held to his head.” – P.J. O’Rourke

  14. Friar Tuck said on 10 Jul 2013 at 6:37 am:
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    at least Wally Covington’s wife didn’t get paid a salary, and, he had the decency to pull the funding request for his wife’s non-profit as a result of community outrage, no such class here it seems

  15. Julian said on 10 Jul 2013 at 1:25 pm:
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    Class? Not enough community outrage is more likely. If city patriots won’t get vocal, Aveni and Loveboy have to carry the torches themselves. Can’t wait to see who announces a run for council next year. At least Aveni is a lock if he runs again, we need his voice and diligence. Lets turn that 4-2 block into 4-2 on the right side

  16. anon said on 10 Jul 2013 at 2:39 pm:
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    Better yet, remove Mr. Wolfe by court order - the sooner the better.

  17. Ivan said on 10 Jul 2013 at 7:16 pm:
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    Mark Wolfe is the closest we have to a democrat in the City and we will support him no matter what he does.

  18. anon said on 10 Jul 2013 at 7:57 pm:
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    That’s pretty interesting: “we will support him NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES”. I guess that just about sums up the problem. Do we need a bigger jail?

  19. Duffy said on 11 Jul 2013 at 8:02 am:
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    So what did the magistrate say?

  20. Another said on 12 Jul 2013 at 6:05 am:
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    Watching the video of the meeting says to me this is all about money for Mr. Wolfe and spite for Mr. Harrover et all. A motion was made by Aveni and Lovejoy that offered a smaller, more in line with other non-profits, amount for the ballet and that would have allowed funding for ALL the groups to pass. It was rejected by Harrover, Randolfh, Way, and Wolfe. Why? How aggrogantly Wolfe voted for his funding with a loud YES! The Mayor seemed hapless, yet again!

  21. anon1 said on 12 Jul 2013 at 3:42 pm:
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    Who chaired this meeting or vote?

  22. anon said on 12 Jul 2013 at 7:46 pm:
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    Haven’t you looked at the video? Mr. Parrish, Manassas BigShot, chairs the whole thing. He is Mark’s board slicker. Whatever he says in weak protest is simply false. He chairs the damned thing, he allows the illegal vote, he knows pefectly well that it violates the law. He is guilty. But he is a Parrish, an untouchable, above the law - just as Mr. Wolfe, seemingly, is above the law. If Wolfe is judged a law-breaker, Parrish is even worse. Parrish allows and enables him.

  23. Julius said on 13 Jul 2013 at 8:25 am:
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    Did Aveni or Lovejoy actually file a complaint? I guess even RINOs like to go along to get along. Conservatives need to turn up the heat if they want change in the city.

  24. anon said on 14 Jul 2013 at 7:31 am:
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    Betcha Mr. Wolfe and the Governors Wife talk frequently about conflict of interest rules, pesky things those rules.

  25. Jon Wong said on 14 Jul 2013 at 7:43 am:
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    me tell everyone dump big bike seat guy next time voting because he like $600,000 bike trails and $800,000 civil war party for wife AND silly man dancing we remember he no good

  26. anon said on 15 Jul 2013 at 4:42 pm:
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    couldn’t have said it better, myself.

  27. curious said on 16 Jul 2013 at 8:46 pm:
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    We seem to be interested mostly in Wolfe’s violation of local, county, and state laws (and, yes, that’s enough to make the blood boil, … and to throw the bum out). Few of us may remember that violations can extend to Federal law, as well. Forget about illegal immigration (we know that his dance company has violated Federal mandate in this regard). His IRS reporting is false: reporting a business income as “non-profit” income is clearly a violation, but his personal IRS reportage for the last few years might be even more interesting. Joint IRS returns mean that Wolfe and Mrs. W. both profited from the monies allotted by the County and City - no matter what he says in public.

    We all remember, of course, than when he was confronted with the illegal alien violation (Federal), we actually heard from his attorney (he himself has had some law training, but this time it was his real attorney). Never mind the bumpkins who danced in his company (Hal and Pal Marty, two real winners). That was just window dressing, containing the message, “flok you, we can do what we want, and you have to like it…” No, Wolfe and troupe violated Federal law, and Wolfe and mizzus may have violated Federal law as well -

    How can we get him to show his personal IRS returns? Don’t we have the right to see those things in a public official, or are they above the law?

  28. Anonymous said on 16 Jul 2013 at 9:18 pm:
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    Prince William Symphony people have followed this story with interest, but with forbearance. When we read the message by “Curious”, we must correct it and say that the most interesting thing about the Wolfe couple’s dealings with the Symphony was what one might perceive as the laundering of funds. MBT would “pay” for an orchestra (thousands of dollars per concert) to be “provided” by the Symphony (who were actually the same people that always had played for the Ballet, and mostly that still play for them). The Symphony had no authority to send whom it chose for the jobs, but was compelled to use the Ballet’s pre-ordained choices. When we challenged this system, we were “fired”. I’m happy to show the email from Mr. Wolfe, firing us.

    The Ballet no doubt claimed this whole dodge as an “expense” on their grant funding and 990s (a budgetary expansion that qualified them for more grant money). The PWSO – before I arrived – apparently reported this same amount of money as “income” (which qualified us, as well, for corresponding grant money) – all in all, a neat deal – everything quite inflated x 2. And because no government agency ever looked into this plan, things were just peachy. When I came to the PWSO in May of 2007, I was expected and told to “do likewise” (make no waves, just do the nasty and be quiet). … until my new board said, “no” to the corruption, the laundering, and the “control” by the Ballet.

    I support Greg’s investigation, but unless some citizens of Manassas will stand up and take the man to the magistrate, I’m afraid that the wolves will continue. The Symphony still exists in reduced form, by the way, and is simply waiting for a house cleaning. We refuse to take public money, because we see that it is given by friendship and not by merit. Don’t make us wait too long for a reappearance, however, because everything has a shelf life!

    Dr. David Montgomery, Prince William Symphony

  29. Anonymous said on 17 Jul 2013 at 6:50 pm:
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    It does not matter if Wolfe votes are not MBT pays Hanover for computer service and the mayor is close friends they always make sure funding for MBT passes. I like that Wolfe always says he takes no pay but travels the world looking for ballet dancers on MBT dime or tax right off as donation

    Ask why is MBT going to CA this month and who foot that bill thanks tax payers

  30. anon1 said on 17 Jul 2013 at 7:38 pm:
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    Unfortunately, Wolfe can spend that money any way he wants, once the City and County stupidly have handed it over to him. Of course, you are correct - he says he takes no pay but lives in comfort with a wife that takes the pay. An investigation that would include their IRS declarations would go a long way toward the truth. Does PWC or Manassas want the truth?? That’s another matter entirely. That would take guts, whereas we are Norman Rockwell throwbacks who prefer to leave it to beaver. Indeed …

  31. may ferris said on 17 Jul 2013 at 8:31 pm:
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    I guess that Mayor Parrish and Corey Stewart would go down along with the Wolfe character? What do you suppose would be their fate, apart from public shame?

  32. anon said on 17 Jul 2013 at 8:39 pm:
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    C’mon May! Public shame? We’re talkin’ PWC here, and you’re trying to introduce some big concept? Maybe one of them would have to sit out a term (you know, make their car payments from their cash stash). Wolfe has a piece of property next to city land that he helped get voted for non-development so that it would always go up in value!! Cash, cash, cash. Don’t worry, May, the wolf people will always survive as everybody else goes down.

  33. notscared said on 24 Jul 2013 at 9:05 pm:
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  34. Greg L said on 25 Jul 2013 at 2:36 pm:
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    Notscared, anyone can do this by going to the magistrate’s office at the Judicial Center in Manassas. You don’t need to be a resident to report a crime happening in the city.

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