Southern Albemarle County’s infrequently seen representative to the House of Delegates, Rustburg resident Matt Fariss, R-57th, has been charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run as well as breach of the peace in two separate Campbell County incidents.
In a story originally reported by the Lynchburg News and Advance, a 2014 Dodge Ram truck traveling north on Red House Road in Rustburg ran off the right side of the road, plowed into several landscaped shrubs, a mailbox, a highway sign and approximately 60 feet of fence around 6:24pm July 29. The truck, which Virginia State Police say was driven by Fariss, stopped momentarily and then took off.
No one was injured in the crash, and charges were filed on December 7. A special prosecutor from Augusta County will handle the case against Fariss, 47, according to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, who did not elaborate on why it took four months for charges to be filed.
Nor would she say how Trooper D.B. Hill identified the truck and its driver.
Gladys resident Ralph Ramsey, who also lives on Red House Road, filed the breach of peace complaint against Fariss January 5 stemming from a December 22 dispute about a right of way. Ramsey’s complaint alleges Fariss threatened violence over a blocked driveway, the News and Advance reports.
Fariss filed an abusive language complaint against Ramsey January 13 for an incident alleged to have occurred January 5, according to court records. Ramsey did not respond to a phone call from C-VILLE, but according to the News and Advance, he threatened to hit Fariss in the head with a block of wood.
On January 21, C-VILLE received an e-mail from Fariss’ legislative aide saying he “plans to give you a call to discuss,” but at press time Fariss had not been in touch.
His attorney, Mark Peake, says, “I don’t have any comment on the charges. They don’t impact his ability to represent the district.” Peake notes that Virginia has a statute that says sitting legislators are not required to be in court for civil and traffic cases until 15 days after the session ends.
Fariss is scheduled to appear in court March 25 for both charges, which are not his only brushes with the law.
When Fariss ran for office in 2011, the Alta Vista Journal reported he had four misdemeanor convictions: three hunting violations and a 1997 DUI. That same year, the News and Advance reported a 2002 emergency protective order required Fariss to stay away from a Lynchburg woman, who told police he crashed through her back door to get into her house when she told him to leave. The order also noted, “History of violence.”
Despite his rap sheet, Fariss won the election with 53 percent of the vote, and was unopposed in the 2013 and 2015 elections.
Since he’s been in office, Fariss has picked up a few other traffic violations. In 2013, he was cited for going 56mph in a 35mph zone in Nelson County, and paid a $147 fine and $99 for court costs. He was charged in 2014 in Campbell County with driving 53mph in a 25mph school zone, and paid a $119 fine and $96 in court costs. And on March 24, 2015, he was charged with a right-turn-on-red violation in Appomattox, which has been continued five times and currently is on the docket for May 11, according to court records.
He was found not guilty of following too closely in November 2012 in Campbell County.