Manassas Journal Messenger | Chapman fraud charge dropped

A former House of Delegates candidate who was indicted in the middle of a heated election is no longer charged with felony voter fraud.

Steve Chapman, 27, was scheduled to go to trial today for allegedly lying about his address on a voting registration form.

On Monday, a special prosecutor dropped that charge, which carried the threat of a 10-year prison sentence.

Chapman said the outcome was a relief, but not a surprise.

“We’re excited, but I always said these charges were trumped up,” he said.

When he was indicted in May, Chapman was embroiled in a contentious struggle to unseat Delegate Harry Parrish, R-Manassas, in the 50th District’s Republican primary.

Chapman lost the June 14 primary 55 percent to 45 percent — a margin of about 342 votes — and has said repeatedly that the indictment was political sabotage cooked up by a good-old-boy network that includes Parrish and Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul D. Ebert.

This spring, both Ebert and Parrish vehemently denied any allegations of collusion.

After a grand jury decided there was enough evidence against Chapman to merit a trial, Ebert and all the Circuit Court judges in Prince William County removed themselves from the case because of the political overtones.

Chapman’s camp said the charges were a result of misinformation being fed to the Commonwealth’s Attorneys office by Parrish’s campaign.

However, Parrish said at the time that the first he’d heard of his opponent’s indictment was from reporters.

Parrish, a 12-term incumbent and local political legend, will face Democrat Donald Shuemaker in the November election.

The felony indictment stemmed from allegations that Chapman didn’t live in Manassas Park when he registered to vote there in October.

Chapman, who said he’d moved to the 50th District — comprised of Manassas, Manassas Park and parts of Prince William County — specifically to run against Parrish, said he’d rented a room in Manassas Park for $125 per month prior to registering to vote.

Chapman also faces a misdemeanor charge of voting in a district where he wasn’t a resident.

That charge has been continued to March 22, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Childrey, a Chesterfield County prosecutor who is handling the case.

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