City of Fairfax mayor arrested in sex-for-drugs sting

WASHINGTON — The mayor of the City of Fairfax was arrested Thursday for distribution of methamphetamine in an uncover sting, which authorities say involves an offer to exchange drugs for group sex.

Fairfax County police arrested Richard “Scott” Silverthorne, 50, of Fairfax, Aug. 4 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tysons Corner. He and two other men, Silverthorne’s suppliers, were arrested for distribution of meth.

Police said Silverthorne, who also served as a substitute teacher for the Fairfax County Public Schools, provided two grams of methamphetamine to undercover detectives. Silverstone has since been terminated from the position he had held since April 2016, said Fairfax County Schools spokesman John Torre.

Police started an investigation into a meth operation the week of July 18, according to Maj. Ed O’Carroll, police spokesman.

“A suspect was identified who was allegedly distributing methamphetamine through a website used to arrange for casual sexual encounters between men,” a news release said.

Police said an undercover detective made contact with the Democratic mayor after creating a profile on a website, which police declined to name. The two then communicated via text messaging.

“During the course of communication, the suspect advised that he could provide methamphetamine for sexual encounters. Undercover detectives agreed to meet the suspect for a group sexual encounter in exchange for methamphetamine. The suspect arranged to bring methamphetamine along with other men to the engagement,” the release said.

Police said after Silverthorne provided the drugs, he was arrested and charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

After Silverthorne’s arrest, councilmember Jeffrey Greenfield was appointed acting mayor, and city spokesman Chris Fow Cohen assured that “City operations will continue as usual.”

Greenfield said he would not comment on the case, and added Silverthorne was a dedicated mayor.

“The City of Fairfax City Council appreciates Mr. Silverthorne’s longstanding dedication to the community. He has served the City of Fairfax as a Councilmember and Mayor for more than a quarter of a century. The community has benefitted from his dedication and his vision for making Fairfax an excellent place to live and work,” Greenfield said in the statement.


‘We had an idea it was the mayor’

Capt. Jack Hardin, commander of the Organized Crime and Narcotics Division of the Fairfax County Police Department, said a citizen provided the department with information about the drugs-for-sex operation.

“We had an idea it was the mayor,” Hardin said during a Friday news conference.

“He had one other relationship on the website, besides us.”

Police met with Silverthorne Thursday night on the parking lot of the hotel, Hardin said.

“The mayor was supposed to provide the methamphetamine. The UC (undercover) was supposed to provide the hotel room,” Hardin said.

Hardin said that it doesn’t matter if you selling or giving it away methamphetamine, you can be charged with distribution.

Hardin said Silverthorne met with his supplier at the hotel where police were meeting with him.

At the hotel, Hardin said police arrested Silverthorne’s alleged suppliers, Juan Jose Fernandez, 34, and Caustin Lee McLaughlin, 21, both of Maryland. A fourth person at the hotel was not arrested.

Fernandez was charged with of felony distribution of methamphetamine, felony possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. McLaughlin was charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine, felony obstruction of justice, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police said they used a stun gun on McLaughlin during his arrest after he resisted.

Police searched Silverthorne’s home and Hardin said it didn’t appear he had large supplies of methamphetamine at his house.

Police are not anticipating any additional arrests, unless the public comes forward with more information.

Anyone with information can call the Fairfax County police at 703-691-2131. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may provide information through Crime Solvers or by calling 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Silverthorne, who was re-elected to his third term at the mayor of the city of 23,500, had a rough year in 2015.

He found out he had squamous cell carcinoma, a sometimes aggressive but nonlethal form of skin cancer, and he was  laid off from his job as a director of recruitment with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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