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Nelson Commonwealth Attorney Discloses Guilty Plea Details Of Ray Uttaro Case : Updated 3:30 PM

[ 30 ] March 7, 2012 |

Photo via CBS-19 Charlottesville: Ray Uttaro, Nelson County's Emergency Service Coordinator pleas guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement in a courtroom on Wednesday morning. Nelson's Commonwealth Attorney Anthony Martin released the case and plea details Wednesday afternoon.

Lovingston
Nelson County, VA

As first reported back in late 2011, Nelson’s Emergency Service Coordinator, Ray Uttaro, was charged with felony embezzlement. Today he appeared in a Nelson courtroom and plead guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement.

“Mr. Uttaro has been suspended without pay,” said Steve Carter, Nelson County Administrator, around 3:30PM Wednesday afternoon in reply to our email inquiry earlier Wednesday asking about the employment status.

Nelson County Commonwealth Attorney Anthony Martin just released the details concerning the case around noon Wednesday. We have posted his release verbatim. Nothing has been changed or edited whatsoever.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: March 7, 2012
RE: Uttaro pleads guilty to embezzlement of donated television
FROM: ANTHONY MARTIN, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
CONTACT: 434-263-7010
County Employee Ray Uttaro, pleaded guilty today to misdemeanor embezzlement in the Nelson County General District Court.
On January 31, 2011, Uttaro, a county employee, by email solicited the donation of a flat screen television from Crutchfield citing the small size of the television that was in the old dispatch center. Crutchfield responded to Uttaro’s email on February 16, 2011, saying they were donating a 46-inch Sony television to the Communications Center. Uttaro then sent a reply back to Crutchfield on the same day thanking them for the donation.
Suspicion of the television’s whereabouts began to surface in the spring of 2011. On February 20, 2011, Uttaro posted as his Facebook status: “I am happy to say, I got a flat panel 27-inch TV for my dispatchers. It will go in the new center once its finished.” On April 2, 2011, Uttaro posted as his Facebook status: “Slept in late this morning, YEAH, mounted the TV to the wall.” He also posted photos of what appeared to be a large flat-screen television on his living room wall. The date of the photo was April 17, 2011.
In mid-November, 2011, the sheriff’s office received information that the television from Crutchfield that was donated to the center may have been the television depicted in Uttaro’s Facebook photos. Uttaro had given conflicting statements to other employees as to the whereabouts of the Crutchfield television. He told one employee that he turned Crutchfield’s offer to donate the television down.
Meanwhile, Uttaro put a smaller Olevia television in the dispatch center. Because of the inconsistent statements and the Facebook postings, this matter was brought to the attention of Nelson County investigators.
To give Uttaro the benefit of the doubt, the investigators first went to Crutchfield to find out if the television was either returned or not picked up. Crutchfield provided the investigators with the email correspondence detailed above and said that the television was picked up and never returned to the store.
After interviewing employees from Crutchfield, investigators went to Uttaro’s residence in Shipman on November 28, 2011.
Investigator Billy Mays and Becky Adcock went to Uttaro’s home and asked if they could speak to him concerning the whereabouts of the donated television. This interview was tape-recorded. Uttaro told Mays and Adcock that he did not pick up the television from Crutchfield.
Mays asked Uttaro about the 27-inch Olevia television that was in the dispatch center at that time. Uttaro told them that he bought that television from Craigslist for $200.00.
Uttaro was then asked about the large television that was mounted on his living room wall. This television had a striking resemblance to the donated television. Mays and Adcock also had the serial number of the television that was donated to the dispatch center by Crutchfield with them.
Uttaro said the television on his wall was not the donated television and that he bought it from a friend. Uttaro could not provide a name for the friend. Mays then told Uttaro that he had spoken to the people at Crutchfield and that their records showed that the donated television never came back and asked Uttaro if they could look at the serial number to the television on his wall.
Once confronted with this information, Uttaro admitted that the television on his wall was the one donated by Crutchfield. He admitted to picking up the television from Crutchfield around February or March and did not know why he kept it. Uttaro then helped the officers dismount the television from the wall and it was taken into evidence.
Uttaro was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 86 days suspended leaving an active jail sentence of 4 days. Uttaro also received a $1,200.00 fine which was the value of the television. He must also perform 100 hours of community service, pay court costs, and he cannot take care of anyone else’s money or property for two years.
The following exhibits were filed in the court papers: copies of email correspondence from Uttaro and Crutchfield, copies of Uttaro’s Facebook postings and photos of the television; and finally a copy of Uttaro’s recorded statement with law enforcement.

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Comments (30)

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  1. Homer Barnswallow says:

    Right is right, and wrong is wrong. But considering Mr. Uttaro was a local government employee, and thus broke the public’s trust the way he did, I’d say he got off practically Scot-free.
    It sure is strange, the actions that local government officials tolerate and support.

    Homer Barnswallow
    Nelson County

  2. Sandra says:

    Good grief, ‘Homer’, you would not have been satisfied until he was burned at the stake, huh? Well, maybe that was what you and your minions expected, since this was a witch hunt.

  3. Oliver says:

    Hey Homer: Several of us have figured out who you are and what you stand for and whom you stand for. I just pray the day never comes that you or any of your family needs emergency assistance as it may not be there. Then lets hear what you have to complain about to our county officials. Pease to you friend as you certainly need a lot of peace in your soul and heart and a bit of love and understanding might just help as well.

  4. sandra says:

    Amen, Oliver.

  5. Homer Barnswallow says:

    I believe Mr. Martin’s explanation dispels any question of a “witch hunt”. Mr. Uttaro stole. He lied. He tried to cover his tracks. All facts he admits. Why do you try to justify an indefensible set of actions?
    Right is right. Wrong is wrong. And in this case, common sense is lacking.
    Please, pray for Mr. Uttaro. He needs it more than me right now, but thanks anyway, Mr. Oliver.

    Homer Barnswallow
    Nelson County

  6. Jane says:

    I’m not sure how this can be classified as a “witch hunt”. He admitted he’s guilty. Someone made him steal the TV? Someone made him lie about it? If he had stolen something from you, would you still be so forgiving?

    You truly believe Nelson County won’t provide emergency assistance if Uttaro is no longer in that position? Let’s live in the real world, please.

    Many of us feel the way Homer does about this situation and I would feel the same regardless of who committed the crime.

  7. Rachel says:

    We have figured out who ‘Homer’ is. Not too difficult.

    Ray made a mistake, he admitted to it. He is being punished. Can you not let it be? To revel and celebrate in a person’s demise shows the unhappiness that is inside one’s self.

    I also find it strange, indeed, how local and elected government officials allow those in their clique to go unpunished. If Ray had been the only one who had a charge and was working for this county, it would be a different story. He is not. There are people with charges worse than his, and they go to work for this county every day. There should be a lot more suspensions today if we expect the same treatment all around.

  8. Brandon Cox says:

    Dear Mr.barnswallow or Mr. Chicken$hit I find it pretty funny that you hide your identity. If you have something to say use your real name so that everyone can know who you are when you need assistance and can ride by pointing and laughing because of your problem. As far as i am concerned you as well as others ARE the problem with this county.

  9. Oliver says:

    Deserves no comment but like I said before, I hope that you never need emergency assistance as it will be hard to say what you receive and as far as prayers goes, Mr. Uttaro has had so many prayers plus hundreds of friends so I seems to think that you need the prayers more than he does at this point in your life.

  10. Newt says:

    I hope that some of you are not saying that just because someone post their opinions on this site and they should require emergency services, they would not get the help they need or that one person runs the emergency service department. Last time I heard there are many there to assist in emergencies. Rachel, if you know something that is not being done to ‘others’ you might want to contact the Attorney General’s office or Virginia State Police and make a formal complaint. I have seen a lot of changes to this county in the last 30 years, but some things stay the same..there has always been a ‘click’ in the county, there has always been people who felt they were above others and rules don’t apply to them.

  11. Brandon Cox says:

    Jane I ask this question of you. How many people do you know that would go to work on their vacation days and work to help countless people be safe? I can tell you who wouldn’t and that is our sheriffs dept. Mr. Uttaro did so this past week. I for one still have an issue with the sheriffs dept. needing a tv in the first place. Are they not supposed to serve and protect not sit back and watch direct tv or dish network? I find it funny how people are so quick to judge. I believe the good book says judge not as you too shall be judged! He made a mistake, I have made plenty myself and if you can honestly sit back and say you haven’t then your lying to yourself.

  12. Jane says:

    It is troubling that people here are berating others because they have an opinion that differs from yours. We are entitled to our opinion and to voice those opinions.

    I find it incredulous that people believe someone can steal from their employer, plead guilty to stealing from their employer, but then keep their position.

    Again, Nelson County will provide emergency assistance whether or not Ray Uttaro is employed there. To say otherwise is quite an exaggeration. It’s also somewhat insulting to the many emergency volunteers of this county.

  13. NOT One of the GOOD OLE BOYS says:

    They should’ve locked up, anyone else in this situation would’ve had been immediately, but given Nelson County’s reputation for lackluster performance and questionable ethics, which seem to be from top to bottom, in there personal and professional lives… BUT it comes as no surprise that he would get a slap on the wrist and be placed on leave without pay… HE’S A THIEF! A CROOK!!! If anytime was the time to punish to the fullest extent, this is it! Im no longer a Nelson County resident! Proud to say! In the same token I have seen this same situation happen too many times before and I feel as though you should punish fairly on each and every individual case, this is NO MISTAKE, children make mistakes this is a grown LAW BREAKING citizen. I always felt nelson counties judicial system was based on the good ole boy system… Im right! Just look at the post by Brandon Cox, “hope you don’t need emergency services” if you are involved with “emergency services” you obviously shouldn’t be! 1000% with you Homer

  14. Brandon Cox says:

    I am far beyond one of the good ole boys I only express my feelings as you have. I lived in asheville nc for 8 years I have seen a lot of questionable activity being brought to light. I myself am not involved or affiliated with any emergency service. In live we are always entitled to opinions hell they are like assholes we all have one and they all differ. If they didn’t we would all be miserable boring people. I respect your opinion on the matter. But who can say what the outcome would have been if it were not a plea deal. We all know he couldn’t have gotten a fair trial by his peers here.

  15. Sherri Brooks says:

    Brandon Cox: I don’t appreciate your comment about the Sheriff’s Office.

    1)I’m married to Sheriff Brooks and I KNOW for a FACT that he has worked on EVERY vacation. As a matter of FACT, he is never away from work. When we are on vacation, he takes phone calls from citizens and employees, checks and responds to emails and voice mails.

    2)I also know for a FACT that my husband has gone out in the middle of the night more times than I care to count.

    3)I also know for a FACT that our home phone rings at all hours and he takes those calls always and does not complain. He considers all this part of the job.

    My husband is hard working and extremely family oriented. He has continued to work while also acting as caretaker for me while I undergo cancer treatments.

    You don’t know these things because you don’t work at the Sheriff’s Office and you sure don’t live with us and know what he does or does not do.

  16. Jane says:

    Brandon,

    To be perfectly honest, I know of many people that have worked during their vacations. I don’t believe that trait is exclusive to Ray Uttaro.

    It’s my understanding the TV is for the new Communications Center, not the Sheriff office. Dispatchers are not law enforcement officers are they (I’m not sure on this point)?

    I have nothing but respect for the Sheriff and his office.

  17. Homer Barnswallow says:

    Thank you, Sherry, for adding a little gravity and truth to this thread. And THANK YOU David Brooks for treading ever-so-lightly through this unpleasant chapter in Nelson history. David is a class act, enduring numerous undeserved personal attacks, while protecting and serving the people of this county. He could have “thrown the book” at Ray Uttaro, but did not: and Ray’s friends and supporters should NOT lose sight of that fact. Instead, he allowed county officials to play their little games of “innocent until proven guilty”, allowing a man charged with a felony to retain his county government job with full pay (at the County Administrator’s behest). This, in turn, incited and encouraged delusional people to support Uttaro’s illegal actions. David Brooks has continued to serve while staying above the fray. This could not possibly be a comfortable time at the Sheriff’s Office, when someone with whom you have worked for so long turns out to be a self-photographing thief who lies to his co-workers. Nobody could envy David’s position. But more people should appreciate the excellent job he does every day for everyone in Nelson County: even those who would have someone go without emergency services solely because of their opinions.
    It must be remembered that David Brooks didn’t bring this all down on Ray Uttaro. Ray Uttaro did this ALL ON HIS OWN. He will not get the easy forgiveness of an errant child, because he is an adult, and he should be glad that he didn’t get more time than four days in jail for violating the public’s trust the way he did.

    Homer Barnswallow
    Nelson County

  18. Wonderin'??? says:

    Don’t want to add more fuel to this fire, but feel inclined to point out a couple of facts. Pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced charge was a gift for Mr. Uttaro. It will allow him to move on without a felony on his record and I’m certain he’s grateful for that. Unfortunately, reducing the charge does not diminish the level of wrong-doing. He used his official position for personal gain and substantially injured public trust. In addition, there have been other very recent problems related to his employment. The County had to spend a great deal of time and money handling the issues relating to his supervision of our animal control facility. While I’m sad for the position in which he now finds himself, weighing these issues, I doubt that any of us would expect our employer to continue to have a working relationship with us.

    I continue to trust that Sheriff Brooks and his team will make every effort to protect us no matter how we feel about Mr. Uttaro. I am confident that there was no witch hunt; simply a very sad story.

  19. Sherri Brooks says:

    Thank you, Homer.

    If folks want to support Ray, go for it. That’s your right as a citizen of this county, however there is no need to degrade an entire of department of hardworking people (the Sheriff’s Office). Many of the staff give their personal time to various charity events in the community as well as in the course of their jobs. It’s not broadcast all over facebook and other social media sites, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

  20. The Storm says:

    OK, what Ray did was wrong, there is no question about it, but he has also contributed so much to our community that I dont mind looking the other way. Nobody is perfect and im sure alot of the judgmental minds reading this article have done far worse. Give the man a break, Mr. Uttaro has helped alot of people and maybe we should be grateful instead of focusing on one little mistake.

  21. Rachel says:

    I find it interesting that people are jumping to defend David Brooks on here, when he was never mentioned, nor was an attack made out to him. Seems people take things personally that actually have nothing to do with them at all.

    And a slap on the wrist? 100 hours of community service, 4 days in jail, $1200 plus in fees is not a ‘slap on the wrist’. Seems like people are out for blood. And he took a plea for a misdemeanor. What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? Let me give you a definition, since many seem to not understand the OBVIOUS difference.

    A misdemeanor is considered a crime of low seriousness, and a felony one of high seriousness. A principal of the rationale for the degree punishment meted out is that the punishment should fit the crime.[2][3][4] One standard for measurement is the degree to which a crime affects others or society. Measurements of the degree of seriousness of a crime have been developed.[5]-Wikipedia

    Please tell me how a television has SERIOUSLY affected society? A TV??? Are people’s lives in danger? Is there any violence or abuse? Does anybody FEAR Ray Uttaro because he had a tv? Probably not. He took a plea, he has taken responsibility, will serve time, pay fines and is not being paid by this county any more. Let. It. Go. I understand some people see this as a personal victory, but why on earth were you so personally invested in his destruction anyway?

    NOBODY is attacking David Brooks. Not once has a single letter written to the BOS, Steve Carter or in public said a thing about him, at least none I am aware of. His name has not been in my mouth in a negative way, nor any members of his family or people he works with. Why do you feel so strongly to defend a person who was not attacked?

    And goodness, enough with the hiding behind fake names. I commend Sherri for coming out publicly with her name, as she has nothing to hide, and knows hiding behind a fake name will help nobody. She obviously shows the maturity she has, and respect for her husband.

    We are all adults. Act like it. And remember, every nasty, negative thing written here and publicly-no matter whose side it is for- can be seen by his children and grandchildren. Have some decency and keep it clean. We have not attacked any of you, so please be mindful of what is said and done.
    Rachel Scalise
    Ray Uttaro’s daughter-because I have no fear in my name being public.

  22. Hope Hite says:

    Actually Rachel, the Sheriff’s Dept. was attacked by Brandon Cox….and I would have reacted the same as Sherri.

    As for Homer Barnswallow, I don’t get it…who cares who he/she is, that person is stil entitled to his/her opinion.

  23. Rachel says:

    I also stated that Sherri was very mature and respectful in her response. She kept it clean and was not rude in any way. I commended her for that. The defense of her husband is not only from her, though. And I personally feel it is not warranted, as he is not under attack.

    If somebody feels that a public place is not being handled properly, as a citizen they are allowed to voice such an opinion. They have voted those people in place, they are paying those salaries with tax dollars. A personal attack is ‘committed when a person substitutes abusive remarks for evidence when attacking another person’s claim or claims.’ Having an opinion about how a place is run is different than a personal attack. Calling somebody a ‘parasite’ is a personal attack. I have yet to see a ‘personal attack’ on David Brooks, yet I see much defense towards him.

    Where was this ‘personal attack’ on the Sheriff’s department? I saw an opinion on how they handle their affairs. Never an attack.

    Many people feel passionate about this issue because it involves somebody who has personally helped them, or associated with them. None of us feel this should have been brushed under the rug, we are all simply speaking of forgiveness. Seeing one mistake, and weighing it against the good he has done. We are not asking you to agree with us, but as much as your opinion is allowed, ours is too.

    All I wish for is that people keep their opinions clean. Never to themselves, but clean. Keep the nastiness out of the comments.

  24. We agree Rachel. We ask that people posting comments here keep it clean. This is a moderated board. Express opinions, just temper it.

  25. Out sider says:

    I am not from Nelson County, but do travel through the county on a regular basis. I know Ray in a professional manner and hate to see what happened. Reading all the comments, I must say that it appears there are some personal or, political opinions being voiced. Ray is a hard worker by profession and in his volunteer work. Nevertheless, regardless of how you serve the community, the law is the law. He admits he did wrong, has faced his excuser, been sentenced by the judge, and now has to face everyone in the community. Regardless of what you write on this post, it does not change a thing, so let by gone be by gone and move on. Ray was so proud of the new 911 center and I am sure the hardest part of this is him facing the people he works(ed) with and being told about these blogs. I have no fear if I was traveling through Nelson County and wrecked, or needed emergency services, fire, rescue, and/or law enforcement would respond. They would not ask me if I know the Sheriff or Ray, they would do what was expected of them and move on to the next call. Prayers go to Ray and the citizens of Nelson County.

  26. Sherri Brooks says:

    Rachel – this is the statement I considered a very personal attack:

    “How many people do you know that would go to work on their vacation days and work to help countless people be safe? I can tell you who wouldn’t and that is our sheriffs dept.”

    It’s simply not true and I felt I had to address it. Those folks give of their time, money, etc. just as much as anyone else.

    It is a shame that we can’t have conversations in a dignified manner, but it’s not all one-sided. That same poster also typed this to someone who disagreed with his opinion, “Dear Mr.barnswallow or Mr. Chicken$hit”.

    Also, you may not be aware, but David has been verbally attacked over this situation (on facebook and other media sources). Some very nasty comments (I won’t dignify them by repeating them here) have been made so I know exactly how you feel, Rachel.

  27. Jane says:

    Dear Rachel,

    I understand you defending your father, any good daughter or son would do the same.

    I believe your father’s good deeds and his hard work were taken into account by the Commonwealth Attorney and Judge because he did commit a felony, but was allowed to plea to a misdemeanor so he won’t have a felony charge on his permanent record.

    As a retired former manager, I can say without hesitation we would not have kept an employee on payroll who stole from the company and unfortunately, that is what he did. I agree with the person who wrote…this is a sad story.

  28. Rachel says:

    I have seen no attacks on David Brooks. I have seen people be defensive, but no attacking without any cause. So if it is happening, it has certainly gotten past me.

    I absolutely support my father. I am proud of him, all he has done, and admitting to a wrong. Darn proud, because I know too many people who would not be capable of admitting to their mistakes, nor take a punishment or responsibility.

    Nelson County has employees who are on payroll and have charges against them. This is common knowledge and is available on the Virginia’s Judicial System website. That is where most of his supporters are confused. Why are they still employed, and he is not?

    I absolutely understand if it was a common reason for firing by the county. If the people who had transgressions before him were fired for their wrong-doings, or perhaps not even hired, I would understand their decision. What I do not understand is why they practice forgiveness for some, and others are tossed aside no matter what they have contributed to the community. It will all come to light, but for now his punishment is done, and saying it is a slap on the wrist is a waste of hot air. The attorney general offered the plea. Take it up with him, and stop saying my father received special treatment. He also has never blamed the Sheriff’s Department, or the sheriff. He took the responsibility upon himself.

    As for the fellow who used coarse language, I said I do not believe that is appropriate from any side. I understand we all feel very passionate about our opinions, but there is no reason to make this into a circus. It is a sad sad situation, for my father, the county, and the people in his community he helps.

  29. Isabell Fran says:

    As I read these rants, here is what I’m left with….the Ray thing is so yesterday. Let’s talk about today. You people writing all of these posts clearly have too much time on your hands. Try volunteering in your community instead! Do something positive.

  30. Jeff says:

    As a life long Nelson County resident I can only hope this dark cloud over county government will subside and the county’s business can move on. Even though Mr. Uttaro commited a crime and admitted to doing so I think he has done alot of good things for this county but is a person who made a mistake and if he has to pay for that mistake with his job then thats up to his bosses the elected county board of supervisors.I am not going to comment on his sentence as I am not a judge or attorney and not that familiar with the legal system. What is disheartening is the calls for certain people not too recieve emergency services because of their opinion, this is America everyone has an opinion and has the right to express that opinion no matter how extreme or how much you disagree with their views and even though I may disagree with their harshness I hope if they need help the county’s emergency services will be there.The great thing about living in this country is our democratic process and I feel fortunate to live in a county where our chief law enforcement officer is elected, even though I have been voting for 25 years and the candidate I have voted for sheriff has never won I feel fortunate that I have the right do so and accept my fellow county residents decision.I respect the emergency service’s employees and volunteers for their hard work and dedication and also the Sheriff and his staff for their work and dedication. I am sure Sheriff Brooks loves the job as he would have too to endure the stress and criticism that comes along with the position.I don’t dislike Sheriff Brooks I just disagree with some of his policies but I don’t attack his dedication or hours he puts in I just chose not to vote for him but I’m not saying I would not consider voting for him in the future. If we disagree with whatever decision the Board of Supervisors makes concerning the employment of Mr. Uttaro we can express our concern with them individually or cast our ballot for someone who we think would have done differantly.I am glad that the Sheriff and Commonwealth’s Attorney handled this case professionally and as ethical as they could. Mr. Uttaro has answered to a judge and will have to answer to his employers.Please all remember that if you disagree with the Sheriff’s Office decision to charge Mr. Uttaro or the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s handling of the charges and the pending Board of Supervisor’s decision on his employment they all answer to their employers every 4 years.