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  1. Council members grouse about Norfolk management

    July 24, 2014 by Christy

    City Manager Marcus Jones often enjoys the good graces of his bosses on the City Council. But Tuesday night was different.

    “The manager’s taken a couple hits tonight,” Mayor Paul Fraim noted during the informal session, where four council members expressed displeasure with various aspects of city management.

    Councilman Andy Protogyrou led the charge. Protogyrou had called for an investigation of a city-contracted plumber sentenced to 15 months in prison following an FBI investigation. The contractor bribed city employees and overbilled the city for years.

    In a three-sentence memo delivered to the council on Friday, Jones said a city investigation found no wrongdoing beyond two city employees who took bribes from the city-contracted plumber. The brief memo didn’t sit well with Protogyrou, who said he expected a full report.

    “It’s ironic that of all the nights, tonight we have a discussion on fraud, managing fraud and risk, tone, culture, control and policies,” Protogyrou said. “And what bothers me is, we as a council know nothing as to what went on. “For us to receive our information from the newspaper is not right.”

    Protogyrou, a lawyer, questioned Jones about exactly what police, who handled the investigation, had reviewed. “I tell you, I deal with Norfolk PD, and sometimes they don’t take notes. Sometimes they take notes and for some reason they destroy those notes. I know how the system works. I don’t know what happened here, and neither do our taxpayers,” Protogyrou said. “I want to know how it happened, why it happened, what controls were not there, what culture in City Hall didn’t exist, what policies did we not follow.”

    Protogyrou suggested the possibility of a review by the city auditor. Jones then said he wanted Alice Kelly, the city’s finance director, to brief the council at the meeting about changes that had been made.

    “You cannot answer this for me tonight,” Protogyrou said. “I want to know, what is your new culture, and if you can do it in 30 seconds, I’ll be surprised.”

    “Can we try 120 seconds?” Jones asked.

    “No,” Protogyrou replied sharply. “I want it written down.”

    Protogyrou said he could not ask the right questions without preparation from a written report.

    Under state law, police reports from such an investigation could be released to the public, a decision left to the discretion of the affected governments. Because it’s optional, Norfolk and most other local governments in Hampton Roads rarely do so.

    Fraim said police would avoid disclosing investigative techniques in writing. But, he told Jones, “there’s a good, healthy discipline about putting things down in writing.”

    “This plan that’s been put in place after this incident ought to be reduced to writing for this council, just like Andy has said, and presented to us, so then we can ask you questions

    about it. OK? I just think that’s a healthy give-and-take,” Fraim said.

    Councilman Paul Riddick, in a critique of how police treat blacks, took on Jones and Goldsmith over two fatal police shootings and said the city was acting like an ostrich that “buries his head in the sand.”

    “The lack of investigation by the city manager, who also serves as our public safety director for the city, and the police chief… who can only say now that the investigation is in the hands of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, is not giving the citizens of Norfolk the level of comfort that I think is expected of our top public safety officials,” Riddick said.

    Finally, Councilman Tommy Smigiel said

    that developer Ronnie Boone Sr. appeared to be getting a “free pass” for years of putting up buildings that lack proper permits and inspections.

    Gesturing toward both Jones and City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko, Smigiel said, “These two offices here have to, at some point, put their foot down and say, ‘Enough is enough.’

    “We have citizens who could be living in structures that haven’t been approved by law, and I worry about their safety,” he said. “If we can’t handle this as

    a city to the fullest extent, then maybe it needs to be turned over to another division to look into. Another city, another commonwealth’s attorney, somebody else, to make sure we don’t continue to be embarrassed.”

    Read the full article here.


  2. Maury High prom king faces four felony charges

    July 23, 2014 by Christy

    Four felony charges including a charge of malicious wounding will proceed against the Maury High School student who was crowned prom king a week after being arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting.

    During a preliminary hearing Thursday a Norfolk General District Judge decided a grand jury should also consider charges of child endangerment, use of a firearm and conspiracy. The judge dismissed 15 other charges.

    Evidence included the student’s statement to police, in which he said he told his passenger not to shoot, pushed the weapon down and had the gun pointed at him.

    A teenage

    girl testified she was walking from a store in the 2400 block of Lafayette Blvd. when shots were fired from the front passenger side of a car that drove by. She said she was hit in the leg but did not go to the hospital.

    A police officer testified that he stopped a Buick matching the description of the car. He said the student, who was driving the car, was cooperative. The student told police he had a scholarship at Norfolk State University, the officer testified, and said he gave someone a ride for gas money. The officer testified a gun slipped down the leg of one of the passengers as police patted him down. He said there was also a rifle on the floor of the backseat where a toddler was sitting.

    The judge silently read the statement the student made to police.

    Defense attorney Andy Protogyrou cited portions of his client’s statement, including that his client repeatedly told the shooter not to fire from his car. The student also told police he tried to stop the shooter by pushing down the weapon.

    Protogyrou said after the hearing that his client had his passenger for only about a week. News of the student’s return to school after being released on bond raised safety concerns and questions about school policy.

    Read the full article here.

  3. Maury High School prom king graduates amid controversy

    June 19, 2014 by Christy

    A Maury High School student who was charged with 19 felonies in connection with a shooting graduated with honors Tuesday night.

    The student played football at Maury High School was released from jail and voted prom king by the senior class. A school board member said the board would be reviewing policies in light of the incident.

    The charges were related to a shooting May 14 around 6 p.m. when emergency communications received a 911 call for a gunshot victim in the 2400 block of Lafayette Boulevard. Norfolk Police Department said officers found a juvenile male victim with an injury that was not life-threatening. Paramedics transported him to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for treatment.

    An investigation revealed the victim had been standing in the area with a juvenile male acquaintance when the suspects drove by in a 2004 Silver Buick Century along with a 3-year-old child. Witnesses told police the vehicle, passed the block several times before one of the male juveniles inside displayed a gun and shot in the direction of a residence.

    The student from Maury drove the vehicle away from the scene and an alert was released to officers with the description of the vehicle. Police stopped the group at Onley and Whitaker Lane, discovered weapons, and detained the suspects.

    According to the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, two suspects were also charged and remain incarcerated. The Maury student was charged with 19 felonies, including eight counts of use of a firearm, six counts of attempted malicious wounding, two counts of malicious wounding, one count of conspiracy, one count of gang participation, and one count of child endangerment.

    The student’s lawyer, Norfolk City Councilman Andrew Protogyrou, said he heard his client tried to stop the shooter. He also said his client was not a threat to the school community.

    “He was not only judged not a threat to the school community, he was judged not a threat to the community as a whole because the court had to make such an understanding in its finding to release him on bail,” Protogyrou said.

    According to a school board policy posted online, “Students are subject to viagra sans ordonnance corrective action for any misconduct that occurs … off school property, when the acts lead to a charge that would be a felony, if committed by an adult.”

    Norfolk City Public Schools would not comment on this story.

    Protogyrou said Norfolk School Board Chairman who is his client’s pastor, testified on his behalf at his bond hearing.

    A family member said the student is an innocent child who just gave someone a ride. He is due back in court on June 30.

    Read the full article here.

  4. Super Lawyers Business Edition 2013

    December 4, 2013 by Christy

    Andrew A. Protogyrou is listed in the 2013 Super Lawyers Magazine, Business Edition for Personal Injury Defense: General. This annual list casino

    compiles the nation’s top attorneys nominated by their peers for excellence in practice. This publisher considers the attorneys listed as the go-to attorneys in litigation.

  5. Beach man gets 18 months for wreck that killed friend

    October 16, 2013 by Christy

    The 19 year old victim’s mother never wanted the man responsible for her daughter’s death to be arrested.

    That, however, didn’t keep a Circuit Court judge Tuesday from sentencing the defendant to 18 months in jail. He was drunk at the time of the Aug. 14, 2011, crash.

    State sentencing guidelines recommended that the defendant receive only probation. Prosecutors asked for at least a year.

    The defendant, now 24, pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter. According to court documents, he was driving his 2005 Ford F-150 pickup about 2:30 a.m., when he veered off the road and struck a tree in the 1200 block of Blackwater Road.

    The crash drew the attention of a nearby resident, who found the defendant lying on the ground next to his burning truck. The man dragged him to safety, court documents said. The 19-year-old victim, who was in the passenger seat, died at the scene.

    According to hospital records, the defendant registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.17, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

    The crash broke both of his’ legs and seriously burned him. Over the past two years, the defendant has undergone 10 surgeries, according to Andrew Protogyrou, his attorney. He said that his client is coping with a staph infection and that his right femur “doesn’t exist.”

    “He has a rod in there now,” Protogyrou said, asking the court for leniency.

    Judge Brown said he believed that the defendant would never forget what happened to his passenger, but he also noted that the defendant had a history with alcohol.

    In 2008, 2009 and 2010, the defendant was convicted in Virginia Beach of unlawful possession of alcohol, according to online court records. In 2009, he also was convicted of public intoxication.

    Read the full article here.

  6. Va. Beach man gets 4½ years in ID theft case

    September 13, 2013 by Christy

    A Virginia Beach man with prior convictions for killing his 2-year-old son and molesting two other children was sentenced Thursday to 4½ years in prison for a new set of crimes: health care fraud and identity theft.

    The Virginia Beach man, admitted in federal court that he stole more than $300,000 from a doctor’s office in a check forgery scheme, assisted by a woman who worked in the office. He pleaded guilty to health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.

    The woman, plead guilty as well and was scheduled to be sentenced September 12, 2013. The two had a relationship that produced a child, his attorney said.

    The Virginia Beach man admitted that he used the identity of a Virginia Beach doctor to cash forged insurance checks that the acheter sildenafil sandoz woman had stolen from the office. They forged 590 checks totaling $308,000, court records say.

    The Virginia Beach man was convicted in 1976 of killing his 2-year-old son in New York by kicking the boy in the stomach. He served about 18 months in prison for that crime. He also served about two years in prison after a 1991 conviction for molesting two children in Virginia Beach.

    Because those crimes were so old, that part of his criminal history did

    not count toward calculating his penalty under federal sentencing guidelines. Otherwise he could have faced considerably more prison time, a prosecutor said.

    His attorney, Andrew Protogyrou, tried to shift some blame to the check cashing service he used. The company made it easy to cash the forged checks by not requiring proof of identity, counsel called such action “willful blindness.”

    The Virginia Beach man set up an account with the check cashing service using only the business license from the doctor’s practice, which the woman involved had taken, Protogyrou said.

    The man then cashed forged insurance checks that the woman had taken from the practice. The woman, employed as the practice’s bookkeeper, was able to cover up the losses to the office.

    The Virginia Beach man, also a Vietnam veteran who was wounded in the war, told the federal judge he tried not to get involved but said he was forced by the woman involved in order to keep their relationship intact.

    Read the full article here.

    All case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case. Prior case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.

  7. As Judges See It: Top Mistakes Attorneys Make in Civil Litigation

    September 10, 2013 by Christy

    Attorney Robert B. Rigney is the tadalafil goedkoop program moderator for this CLE (worth 6.0 hours of credit, including 1.0 hour of ethics) on October 4, 2013 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

    For information or to register see the NBI CLE Registration

    Form, online, or call 1-800-930-6182.

  8. Super Lawyers Virginia 2013

    June 26, 2013 by Christy

    Andrew A. Protogyrou was recently listed in the 2013 Super Lawyers Magazine for Personal Injury Defense: General. He was only one of four attorneys in the City of Norfolk in that category and one of sixteen from across the Commonwealth of Virginia. This annual list compiles the nation’s top attorneys nominated by their peers for excellence in practice. This publisher considers the attorneys listed as the go-to attorneys in litigation.

  9. Norfolk trial begins for Somalis who fired on Navy ship

    February 27, 2013 by Christy

    Armed with AK-47s, a group of Somali men in a small skiff opened fire in 2010 on a 609-foot Navy ship off the coast of Africa.

    Prosecutors argue the men were pirates who mistook the amphibious dock landing ship for a commercial vessel.

    Defense attorneys, however, claim they were merely lost at sea and trying to get the ship’s attention.

    A jury trial for five of the

    men started Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.

    In opening statements Wednesday, prosecutors said the men set out to hijack a ship in the Gulf of Aden and hold its crew for ransom. Under cover of night, they snuck up behind the Ashland thinking it was a commercial vessel, said attorney Benjamin Lucas Hatch.

    Before dawn, one of the men pulled out a gun and started firing. “They didn’t mean to attack the U.S. Navy, but that is exactly what they did,” Hatch said.

    Defense attorneys acknowledged one of the men on the boat fired a gun but argued they were only trying to get the sailors’ attention. Robert Rigney, one of the Somalis’ court-appointed attorneys, said the men were on their way back from smuggling a group of 80 refugees to Yemen when their ship became disabled.

    “It’s not unusual to fire a weapon to signal someone,” Rigney said. It would make no sense for pirates to attack a Navy ship. “These guys in a little skiff are going to take over the USS Ashland?” asked Rigney. “I’m not sure the National Enquirer magazine would buy this script.”

    If convicted of the piracy charges, the men face mandatory life sentences.

    Read the full article here.

  10. Wardrobe can be a factor in verdict

    August 16, 2012 by Christy

    Norfolk defense attorney Andy Protogyrou’s first look at his client wasn’t pretty. The man’s head was shaved clean as a bullet, and his Fu Manchu mustache dangled well past his chin. He wore standard-issue, motorcycle gang leather. Lots of it.

    “The jury’s going to convict you just because of the way you look,” Protogyrou told his client.

    The middle-aged man

    and neck tie ensemble replaced his leather. He looked, Protogyrou, said recently, “like a 50-year-old banker.”

    The client walked away from the federal trial with just misdemeanor convictions, he said.

    These days, courtrooms have joined reality television shows as real-life examples of extreme makeovers. The wrong appearance, many lawyers say, can prejudice a jury or potential jurors.

    Read the full article here.

    All case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case. These prior case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.