Nelson County Official Formally Charged : Resumes Duties : Updated 12.21.11 @ 1:45PM EST

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Screengrab via CBS-19 Charlottesville : The Newsplex in Charlottesville is reporting that Ray Uttaro, Nelson County’s Emergency Services Coordinator was served with a search warrant served this week.

Lovingston
Nelson County, Virginia

Updated 12.21.11 1:45 EST
NCL has confirmed that Ray Uttaro has resumed at least some of his duties in his county capacity while felony embezzlement charges are pending. “Ray Uttaro returned to work from administrative leave on Monday, December 19th. His responsibilities encompass emergency services and animal control,” said Steve Carter the Nelson County Administrator. Carter responded both by both email in a phone conversation on Wednesday afternoon.

Nelson County’s incoming Commonwealth Attorney Anthony Martin confirmed earlier this week that charges are still in place with a February 22nd preliminary hearing date scheduled for Uttaro.

When County Administrator Carter was asked if it was unusual to have an employee return to work with pending felony charges, “That’s a personnel issue and I am not at liberty to discuss that at this time,” he said.

NCL in conjunction with our Charlottesville TV News partner CBS-19 originally reported this story on December 2nd.

Previous posts
The Nelson General District Court Clerk’s office confirms Wednesday afternoon that formal charges have been filed in this case. According to information included in the warrant on file, Ray Uttaro has been formally charged with felony embezzlement. An advisement court date of December 14th 2011 at 1:30PM has been set in the case.

Via CBS-19 : Ray Uttaro has been formally charged with felony embezzlement.

Scroll below for original information in this case.

Previous Posts
The Newsplex CBS-19, our news partner in Charlottesville, reported the following story on an apparent investigation into possible embezzlement and larceny by Ray Uttaro, Nelson County’s Emergency Services Coordinator. Reporter Chris Stover worked the story here in Nelson. Their story verbatim here.

December 1, 2011

Nelson County’s Emergency Services Coordinator is at the center of an investigation into embezzlement. Ray Uttaro’s office in the Nelson County Office Building was searched earlier this week for electronic records pertaining to the donation of a 46” Sony Bravia HDTV.

In an affidavit filed Monday, investigators say Uttaro sent an email in February to the Crutchfield Headquarters in Charlottesville asking that they donate the TV to the county’s new Emergency Communications Center. According to the report, he picked up the TV that month, however, to date, the ECC does not have a 46” TV.

Uttaro claims the TV was too big for the ECC and was returned to Crutchfield, although the electronics store says it was never returned. Furthermore, investigators say Uttaro posted a picture to Facebook in April of a new flat screen TV mounted to a wall in his home.

After searching Uttaro’s office in the Nelson County Office Building, investigators seized two flash drives, a Dell laptop and two Dell modems in hopes of obtaining those emails and any other electronic communications regarding the TV.

If the Commonwealth’s Attorney feels there is enough evidence to move forward with the case Uttaro, who also serves as Nelson County Animal Control Supervisor, could be charged with embezzlement and grand larceny.

CBS19’s calls to Uttaro have not been returned. Both the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and the Commonwealth’s Attorney refused to comment on the case.

Uttaro has also come under fire for his handling of the investigation into animal abuse at the Nelson County home of Tracy and Joyce Davis. The Rooster Ridge property was raided two weeks ago and the couple was arrested on neglect and abuse charges after dozens of malnourished animals were found.

Under Uttaro’s leadership, Animal Control officers say they were tipped off and made several visits to the home over the past year, but never found evidence of abuse. However, special agents who raided the property found a much different scene.

And earlier this fall, Nelson County was chastised by state officials who claimed Uttaro is not certified to lead the county’s animal control office. County officials conceded and said they would give him the necessary 10-day training.

NCL Editor’s Note:
A request is being sent to My. Uttaro to privately identify to us the families whom he says received donations from a Christmas drive in which we were involved in December 2010. Upon receiving the names of those families, we will not publish them to maintain their privacy.

Update: On 12.13.11 NCL received the requested list from Mr. Uttaro. We are satisfied from the detailed information provided that all donations are properly accounted for.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Is anyone surprised by this? I’m not. I know there are more crooked in Nelson than just this one.

  2. Mother always said, “Always write a Thank You note for the gifts you receive … BEFORE you use them. That way, you live with a clean conscience every day.” Perhaps this would have avoided any confusion.
    Homer Barnswallow
    Nelson County

  3. there are crooks everywhere. Nelson is full of Great people. Despite what may or may not have taken place. Ray Utarro is a good man, who has always proven to be one of the best in our department. ALL people make mistakes, and It would be my guess all have done things that if caught could be illegall. (Not saying though he did this) He is always out and helping at every local event, and is always present at accidents and other emergencies in the county. I don’t know what will come of this, my personal feeling is this is not as cut and dry as it’s being presented. I believe he’s an honest man, and I for one support him. If something did happen, I KNOW there is more to this story and I know he’ll take responsibility if anything was done wrong, but do not believe anything was done in a criminal matter.

  4. Am I surprised at this, YES I AM, I live in Nelson and have all my life and it is no different than any other small county, ups and downs. Always easy to throw the first stone, don’t you think. Why does every one to be the negative all the time?

  5. I think we will all find there is more to this story than we are being told.
    What if Ray DID get the TV and it was too big?
    What if he thought he couldn’t return it because it was a donation?
    What if Ray made a stupid choice and decided to buy a smaller TV for the office himself, and kept the larger TV? Stupid, yes. Criminal, no.
    I wonder if this would be an issue had Ray campaigned for the sherrif instead of the other guy?
    I smell a rat; I think politics and retaliation are at play here as much as anything.
    And if that rumor turns out to be true, shame on those people who smeared the name of a good man!
    Ray is a good man and a dedicated public servant. I can’t wait to hear “the rest of the story”.

  6. It’s finally time that this man came to justice – his heading of Animal Control is a joke. He has no compassion for the animals and could care less how many live or die. He just cost the County thousands of dollars in a fine from the State Vet, and yet he still has his job? Even if he isn’t punished for the fraud, he’ll have to face a much tougher judge one day and that gives me much comfort.

  7. Whoa, this is the first time I can remember having someone facing a felony indictment return to County employment. Certainly an interesting decision by the County Administrator, seemingly putting the County further at risk of serious lawsuit if anything unforeseen ever happened that could bounce reponsibility back to the County (who then is shown to have placed someone of suspicion, already facing felony charges, in a position of authority)….especially suspicious given the evasive answers provided by the County Administrator….certainly NOT a way to re-assure a concerned public.
    Sure, Ray IS a “nice guy”. Sure, he may have “purchased a smaller TV” ~~ or maybe just brought his old one from home, instead. Still, the bottom line is that a man of authority has been accused of breaking the law. Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty. But at this point, he stands accused, and that’s a fact. My aunt’s yankee neighbor was always adamant that Bernie Madoff was one of the “nicest guys” she ever met ~~ but Bernie’s off to the Big House for a long time: nice guy reputation and all.
    Focus should be placed on Steven Carter, his motives and his decision-making process … and the tenuous, liability-laden positions in which the County is placed by those decisions.
    Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Pay attention, Nelson. If it looks like a rat, and smells like a rat, it probably is NOT a duck.

    Homer Barnswallow
    Nelson County

  8. This is a very old postiing but I have to say one thing, Mr. Uttaro did not cost the county thousands in fines for killing dogs, that was Sandy Solar who did that and never once was her name brought into this, she is still employeed and if NCL would only do their research they coudl see the records that prove this. So don’t blame a person who had nothing to do with costing the county a lot of money, but do question the County Administrator for not telling all the facts.

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