Petersburg police officer arrested for election fraud in bid for Sheriff

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CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. - A man from West Point was charged Tuesday with election fraud following an investigation by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richmond Field Office.

Vance R. Richards, 46, turned himself into state police Sept. 8 and was released on bond.

Richards was running for Charles City County Sheriff.

In June 2015,  the Charles City County Commonwealth’s Attorney asked state police to investigate an allegation that the addresses Richards used to file his application for elected office in Charles City County were not valid.

A Charles City County grand jury handed up six indictments of making false statements on legal forms.

PHOTO by: Vance Richards campaign page

PHOTO by: Vance Richards campaign page

The investigation remains ongoing. The King William County Commonwealth’s Attorney has been appointed special prosecutor for the case.

Sources told CBS 6 that a home on John Tyler Memorial High is a property that was listed that he was living in in Charles City County.

"I drive by there everyday and nobody lives there," said Carl Haden.

Reporter Chelsea Rarrick spoke with Richards by phone Wednesday. He directed all questions to his attorney, Thomas Roberts.

Roberts said Richards first rented the house on John Tyler Memorial Highway with plans to renovate it, but there were water problems.

"So he moved from there to a second residence," said Roberts.

Roberts also provided CBS 6 with Richards' two leases.

"If you were just setting up a sham address why would you care about the water?" asked Roberts.

Richards has served in law enforcement for 24 years, according to his campaign site. He started his law enforcement career in 1991, in Hampton and has worked throughout Virginia; serving in the York- Poquoson Sheriffs Office, Gloucester County Sheriffs Office, Charles City County Sheriffs Office and Petersburg Bureau of Police.

Petersburg Police released a statement: "Vance Richards is on leave without pay from Petersburg Bureau of Police. His sworn police powers have been withdrawn."