Arlington, VA

A Maryland man awaiting trial in the murder of Ballston resident John Giandoni has died in jail.

Jitesh Patel, 43, “was found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility” early Monday, the county said in a press release late Monday afternoon. “Arlington County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Nurses began immediate resuscitation efforts after finding Mr. Patel, before Fire Department rescue units arrived.”

Patel was pronounced dead by paramedics just after 6 a.m.

Patel has been in jail since July 26, 2018. In a preliminary court hearing, prosecutors said that Patel brutally killed Giandoni, his lover’s ex-boyfriend, after laying in wait in Giandoni’s townhouse.

Giandoni was found dead on March 16 after being strangled, shot and stabbed.

The full press release about Patel’s death is below.

Jitesh Patel, 43, died in the early hours of November 11, after he was found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Arlington County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Nurses began immediate resuscitation efforts after finding Mr. Patel, before Fire Department rescue units arrived. He was pronounced dead by Medic 110 at 0605 hours at the scene.

Mr. Patel had been incarcerated since July 26, 2018 awaiting trial after being charged with Homicide.

His family was informed of his death this afternoon.

Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Following standard procedure, the death is being investigated by the Arlington County Police Department. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. King of the Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703.228.4243 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1.866.411.TIPS (8477).

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Last night, reform candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti was elected the next top prosecutor for Arlington and Falls Church, leaving questions about how her campaign promises could affect the area’s political and legal landscape.

Throughout her unusually contentious — and expensive — campaign, Tafti promised to stop prosecuting some marijuana possession cases, eliminate some cash bail requirements, and make it easier for defense attorneys to access case files, among other reforms.

Tafti declined to discuss details about her plans for the prosecutor’s office itself, but the other agencies most affected by her reforms say her tenure could have a big impact on their work.

Public defenders may have more time with their clients 

Chief Public Defender Bradley Haywood has been a vocal critic of outgoing Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and donated to Tafti’s campaign. He told ARLnow her win will “absolutely” change the work his office can do, adding that her election was an “amazing opportunity” for judges, lawyers, and prosecutors to work together on criminal justice reform.

One reform Haywood said will majorly impact public defenders is Tafti’s promise to do away with the the requirement that defense attorneys hand copy all the prosecutor’s files about their criminal cases — a process several attorneys say is “horribly inefficient” and makes preparing large cases impossible.

“We estimated that there were about 1,000-1,500 hours we spent in that stupid room typing manually,” Haywood said of his office’s work in the past year. “It’s going to go down from 1,000 hours to zero probably in January. That will give us time to actually learn more about our clients.”

Tafti told ARLnow last night after the polls closed and her campaign declared victory that she was “absolutely” still committed to digitizing the document policy.

The Arlington County Bar Association, which includes private defense attorneys, declined to comment when asked how the new prosecutor’s policy priorities could affect members’ work.

The Sheriff’s Office may need a budget bump

Another one of the reforms Tafti focused on during her campaign was ending the practice of “cash bail,” which she said penalizes lower-income people who might instead remain jail as they await trial.

Outgoing prosecutor Theo Stamos announced last November she would stop seeking bail for people accused of low-level misdemeanors after seven state lawmakers urged her to fix the system. However, public defenders criticized the plan for still excluding too many defendants, calling it a “cynical PR move” to help her bid for re-election.

Sheriff Beth Arthur, who won her re-election last night, told ARLnow she didn’t necessarily oppose more changes to the bail system. But she did express concern about how to manage resources if judges choose to release defendants before trial with conditions — like weekly drug testing — in lieu of bail.

“I do have concerns from a staffing perspective and from an operational perspective on how how this impacts the poor people who are managing the program and who have a caseload of 60-65 people,” she said of her office’s pre-trial program that supervises such defendants. “That’s a lot.”

However, Arthur said she’s hopeful that the county will grant her office additional resources to staff pre-trial programs should they be affected by Tafti’s reforms — or the jail diversion program for people with mental illnesses.

In June, the Arlington County Board approved a $45.3 million total budget for the Sheriff’s Office in fiscal year 2020.

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(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) The county could soon spend up to $5.5 million to replace the Arlington County Justice Center’s old heating system, which is now in need of “constant repairs,” per officials.

The Arlington County Board is poised to vote on the replacement during its meeting this Saturday, October 19. The 13-story Courthouse complex at 1425 and 1435 N. Courthouse Road includes local courts, Arlington County Police Department headquarters, the Arlington County jail, and the the Sheriff’s Office.

“The primary intent of this contract is to replace a total of (6) six boilers and (4) four domestic hot water tanks that have reached the end of their useful lives and are in constant repairs,” staff wrote in a report to the Board.

Since 2016, the county has spent $300,000 on trying to fix the six boilers, according to Peter Golkin, head spokesman of the Department of Environmental Services.

Crews are also expected to fix the Building Automation System which “controls at the Justice Center with energy efficient equipment and for redundancy” as well as a dishwasher in the kitchen of the Arlington County Detention Facility, per the report.

The Board will vote on awarding the $5 million HVAC contract to Pittsburgh-based construction and services company Limbach Holdings, Inc. The company offered to do the work for about $1 million less the next closest contract bidder, Rockville-based mechanical contracting firm Shapiro & Duncan, Inc.

The Limbach contract up for Board review to includes $4,784,880 in base pay for the contractor, plus a change order contingency allocation of $717,732.

The staff report states that the repair work “will not impact the functionality of the building for staff or public.”

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Starting Sunday, Arlington County sheriff’s deputies will ditch their drab all-brown uniforms for slicker, black-and-tan and black-and-white duds.

In an announcement from Sheriff Beth Arthur, below, the Sheriff’s Office says the new unis will “continue to display the professionalism of the office.”

The Sheriff’s Office runs the county jail, oversees courthouse security, assists with traffic enforcement and performs other local duties.

Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur announced that sheriff’s deputies will be wearing new styles of uniforms starting Sept. 1, 2019.

The new uniforms are a change from the brown uniform that deputies in Virginia have historically worn. The new look will give black pants and a tan shirt to line staff and Sergeants, and black pants and a white shirt for Lieutenants and above.

In 2005, the Virginia General Assembly repealed a 1980s law requiring deputies to wear dark brown shirts and taupe pants. Sheriff’s offices across the state now have greater flexibility in their uniform choices.

Arlington County made the switch to new uniforms this year due to certain components of the brown uniform becoming increasingly difficult to obtain and uniform manufacturers no longer producing them. Several sheriff’s offices across the Commonwealth have already made uniform changes for the same reasons.

Sheriff Arthur and her staff are excited about the change and believe the new uniform will continue to display the professionalism of the office.

Photos courtesy Arlington County Sheriff’s Office

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Morning Notes

Merlene Accuses Favola of Sexism — “Normally, Democratic debates in deep-blue Arlington are wonky, congenial, staid, even boring affairs, where the candidates at least pretend to be cordial to each other. And tonight’s 31st State Senate district Democratic debate, between incumbent Sen. Barbara Favola and challenger Nicole Merlene, largely held to that model for the entire debate… until the closing statements, when basically all hell broke loose.” [Blue Virginia, PDF]

Metro Closure This Weekend — “[On] May 4 and 5, Metro will be closed south of Reagan National Airport– six stations in all. Trains will be replaced by free shuttle buses at Braddock Road, King St-Old Town, Eisenhower Ave, Huntington, Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield.” [WUSA 9]

Arlington and Amazon Emails Revealed — “Arlington County officials worked closely with Amazon.com Inc. to present a good public relations strategy in the weeks leading to their passage of the company’s $23 million incentive package, emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show. The emails indicate some county officials were trying to develop a cozy relationship and wanted to help Amazon navigate challenges and smooth over some criticism.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Man Donates Flag Tie to New U.S. Citizen — Arlington resident Marc Johnson was trying to sell a patriotic American flag tie on Ebay after cleaning out his closet, but ended up donating it to the would-be buyer when he learned that the buyer was planning to wear the tie to his swearing-in ceremony to become an American citizen. [Washington Post]

Arlington Sheriff’s Office Turning 150 — “The 150th anniversary of establishment of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will be commemorated on May 7 as part of National Correctional Employees Week. The Arlington Sheriff’s Office was established at a time when Arlington (then known as Alexandria County) was being separated from the town (now city) of Alexandria and into its own self-governing locality.” [InsideNova]

History of Harry W. Gray House — “On this day in Arlington history: May 1, 1881 Harry W. Gray and his family move into their house. He and his family took years to build it and it is the only one of its kind for miles… The house remains a sturdy structure, its longevity a testament to Gray’s workmanship.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Diocese Releases List of Accused Priests — “Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses on Wednesday released lists of clergy who officials say were deemed ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing youth… The Diocese of Arlington, which covers the northeastern corner of Virginia, released a list of 16 names.” [Washington Post, Diocese of Arlington]

ACPD Restaurant Initiative Deemed a Success — “Arlington County, Virginia, is trying to fight drunken driving, and its method may prove to be a model for the nation.” [WTOP]

Cristol Quoted in the New Yorker — “‘We have an agenda that is about equity and anti-racist goals, and I don’t think he can effectively lead on it,’ [Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol] said, referring to the governor. As for Fairfax, she said, she had thought, after the first allegation, that ‘there might be a way forward for him to recognize harm done’ and stay in office. After the second, it seemed clear to her that there was an indefensible pattern of behavior.” [The New Yorker]

Arlington Man Arrested for 2016 Rape — “Alexandria Police have arrested a man who they say abducted and raped a lifeguard in broad daylight from a pool on South Pickett Street in 2016.” [Fox 5]

Hope’s Assisted-Living Bill Passes — “The derecho that came through Arlington several years ago inspired me to bring this bill and work to make sure, at a minimum, prospective residents knew whether their assisted living facility had a generator in case of loss of power.” [InsideNova, Twitter]

Sheriff’s Office Helping With Scholarships — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office is helping the Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute raise college scholarship funds for Virginia residents majoring in criminal justice.” [Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Dems Weary of Richmond Scandals — “With a political crisis of unprecedented proportions swirling at the statewide level, Arlington Democrats are reacting at perhaps the only pace available to them – one day, and one step, at a time. ‘We will get through this,’ a visibly weary Jill Caiazzo, chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, said at the organization’s monthly meeting on Feb. 6.” [InsideNova]

Dems to Hold Caucus for School Board — The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold a “firehouse caucus” over the course of three days in June to determine the party’s endorsement for School Board. [Arlington Democrats]

Sheriff Arthur Running for Reelection — “Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur on Feb. 7 kicked off a bid for re-election, touting successful partnerships her office has forged with other government agencies and the community at large. ‘I hope that I can count on you,’ Arthur told the Arlington County Democratic Committee as she launched a bid to retain the office she has held for the past 18 years.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s (Sometimes) Hidden Gems — “In Arlington, we’re lucky to be home to 10 of ‘the oldest federal monuments.’ Those 40 oft-overlooked boundary stones were laid back in 1791 to mark borders of the spanking new District of Columbia.” [Falls Church News-Press]

How to Walk from Crystal City to DCA — “Reagan National airport is about 1,800 feet from Amazon’s new Crystal City headquarters… that’s not to say it’s an easy stroll: Train tracks, busy roads, and other obstacles separate a walker from DCA. Eventually, a pedestrian bridge could make the journey less fraught, but in the meantime, we gave one route a try.” [Washingtonian]

Lunar New Year Event This Weekend — The Eden Center in Falls Church is holding a Lunar New Year event Sunday “with a lion dance, entertainers, balloon sculptures, face painting and ‘other surprises and giveaways.'” [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Incarcerated mothers and fathers can celebrate the holidays with their children next week as part of events hosted by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.

Incarcerated parents must meet certain requirements for the opportunity to have dinner with their children and make themed crafts.

The recently released holiday movie “The Grinch” served as the inspiration for this year’s theme.

“The events aim to foster positive relationships between parents and children and lessen the effects of separation,” a county press release said.

The events will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Arlington County Detention Facility (1435 N. Courthouse Road). The fathers-only event takes place on Monday (Dec. 10), followed by the mothers-only event on Tuesday (Dec. 11).

The Sheriff’s Office plans to host similar events when summer comes along, according to the press release.

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Morning Notes

Police Investigate Stabbing Near Alexandria BorderUpdated at 2:45 p.m. — Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing that happened last night at S. Arlington Ridge Road and S. Glebe Road. The incident, which started when the victim asked for help finding a ride, was initially believed to be a shooting, but was later determined to be “the result of a sharp weapon.” The victim was found with non-life threatening wounds just across the border in Alexandria. [Twitter, ACPD]

Major Redevelopment in Rosslyn — The Dittmar Co. has filed a preliminary site plan to redevelop the Holiday Inn hotel in Rosslyn, building 26- and 38-story towers housing 490 apartments and 327 hotel rooms. The proposal includes a 6,000 square foot event space on the top floor of the taller tower and the demolition of a skybridge crossing Fort Myer Drive. [Washington Business Journal]

Leonsis Says Build the Gondola — In a joint WaPo op-ed, Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly and former GOP Congressman Tom Davis say the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola would be a “forward-looking and innovative” investment in our transportation infrastructure. [Washington Post]

Local CEO Buys Rosslyn Buildings — “Affiliates belonging to Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. CEO Dave Schaeffer, one of the region’s highest-paid chief executives, have acquired a pair of Rosslyn office buildings (1550 and 1560 Wilson Blvd) recently renovated to include upgraded common-area space and a new boutique boxing-oriented fitness facility.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sheriff’s Office Raises Money for Prostate Cancer — The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office helped to raise money for prostate cancer treatment at Virginia Hospital Center during the month of November via its “Beards with a Badge initiative.” [Virginia Hospital Center, WJLA]

November Sets Weather Record — Last month was the wettest November on record for the Washington area. It was also the second-wettest meteorological fall on record for the area, according to the National Weather Service. [Twitter]

Police Searching for Missing Man Last Seen in Georgetown — Police are still looking for David Stern, a D.C. accountant last seen at Dixie Liquor on M Street in Georgetown. The 29-year-old, who is engaged to be married, hasn’t been seen since buying a bottle of Crown Royal at the store this past Tuesday. [Fox 5]

Photo courtesy @wwwchris

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Morning Notes

Arlington Losing Big Office Tenant — “BAE Systems Inc. is moving its headquarters to Falls Church as part of a consolidation of its Northern Virginia office space… The move will also further ding Arlington County’s office vacancy rate, which at the end of 2017 was 20.6 percent.” [Washington Business Journal]

Hazmat Situation at Kaiser Permanente — Arlington County firefighters responded to a hazardous materials incident at Kaiser Permanente in Falls Church yesterday. Five people were evaluated by medics and, of them, two were transported to the hospital. [WJLA, Twitter, Twitter]

Red Top Development Groundbreaking Nears — “The Shooshan Co. has teamed up with Trammell Crow Residential on the first phase of its planned Red Top Cab site redevelopment in Clarendon, with groundbreaking slated for early next year. The partners closed Sept. 29 on their acquisition from The Red Top Cab Co. founder Neal Nichols of several parcels along Irving and Hudson streets for a listed consideration amount of nearly $28.2 million, according to Arlington County’s Recorder of Deeds.” [Washington Business Journal]

RIP Lance Newman and Tim Wise — Two notable Arlingtonians have died: “Tim Wise, the longtime president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, died Friday in Fredericksburg after a 10-month battle with cancer and heart trouble… Lance Newman, one of four black students who in February 1959 began attending a previously all-white middle school in Arlington… had died after a short illness.” [InsideNova]

ACSO Launches Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign — “Breast cancer hits close to home for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which has launched a campaign to raise awareness about early detection and preventative care. Over the last six years, two employees at the county’s sheriff’s office have been diagnosed with breast cancer.” [WUSA 9]

Forum Planned to Discuss Accessory Dwellings — “A forum looking at current regulations related to accessory-dwelling units in Arlington will be held on Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at Central Library. Speakers will discuss how changes made to the county’s housing ordinances in 2017 impact the regulatory process, and will look at whether further changes are needed.” [InsideNova]

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An Arlington man is now behind bars after he allegedly struck a sheriff’s deputy and was subsequently subdued with a Taser.

County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Maj. Susie Doyel says deputies were working to evict 53-year-old Vincent Moody from his home along the 1000 block of S. Queen Street when he “became combative.” Moody then “struck a deputy in the face” and was tasered by the deputies, Doyel said.

He’s now facing charges of obstruction and assault on a law enforcement officer, with a hearing in Arlington General District Court set for Oct. 24.

Moody is being held at the county detention center without bond.

More highlights from the past week of county crime reports, including some we’ve already reported, are below.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-09250202, 2500 block of S. Lynn Street. At approximately 6:07 p.m. on September 25, police responded to the report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 4:45 p.m. on September 24 and 5:00 p.m. on September 25, an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a residence and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. There is no suspect description(s). The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-09240148, 1600 block of N. Oak Street. At approximately 4:44 p.m. on September 24, police responded to the late report of breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 3:00 p.m. on September 10 and 4:44 p.m. on September 24, an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to the victim’s residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect description(s). The investigation is ongoing.

HOME INVASION ROBBERY, 2018-09220044, 4700 block of 33rd Street N. At approximately 3:17 a.m. on September 22, police were dispatched to the report of a panic alarm. Upon arrival, it was determined that as the homeowner returned to the residence, an unknown suspect brandishing a firearm forced his way inside with two additional suspects. The suspects restrained the residents, assaulted the male victim and made threats of bodily harm to the two additional victims. The suspects stole items of value before fleeing the scene in a silver vehicle. The victims did not require medical treatment. The suspects are described as three black males, wearing dark clothing and white gloves. The investigation is ongoing.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2018-09200132, 2000 block of S. Kenmore Street. At approximately 2:03 p.m. on September 20, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that one victim became engaged in a verbal dispute with two suspects inside a business. The victim then exited the business and got into a vehicle with two additional victims. As the victims began to drive away, the suspects approached the vehicle and the dispute escalated. One suspect brandished a firearm and shot at the vehicle occupied by the victims. The suspects then fled the scene on foot. One of the victims suffered minor injuries and was treated on-scene by medics. The investigation is ongoing.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Sheriff’s Office

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