Police Officers Sue Town Of Purcellville

Woodgrove Resource Officer McCarten. Photo by Lorallye Partlow

Woodgrove Resource Officer McCarten. Photo by Lorallye Partlow

Written by Jordan Fiala, Maryam Khan

Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister and Officer Kristopher Fraley have both filed lawsuits against the Town of Purcellville and former interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas. Both suits were filed within three months of each other. McAlister filed her lawsuit on July 22, 2019 while Fraley filed his on Sept. 22, 2019.

The lawsuits were filed due to the ongoing investigation into McAlister being placed on administrative leave by then former town manager Alex Vanegas. McAlister filed her five-count lawsuit for $16 million after being reinstated from administrative leave in August of 2018.

Kristopher Fraley, caught up in defending McAlister, was then also placed on administrative leave by consultant Georgia Nuckolls and Alex Vanegas in October of 2017 and re-instat
ed August 1, 2018. Fraley filed his seven-count lawsuit for $9 million.

The suits come after the controversy of Vanegas placing McAlister on leave and naming Joseph Schroeck as her replacement. Vanegas investigated McAlister’s alleged actions of misconduct, hiring consultant Georgia Nuckolls in the process. After Vanegas’ investigations centered around the claims of McAlister creating a hostile work environment. She was placed on admistrative leave from her position on November 2, 2017.

While Fraley was reporting the misconduct of another officer against McAlister to Vanegas and Nuckolls during what he thought was a meeting, he was allegedly accused of misconduct. Nuckolls also contracted Daryll Debow, owner of Northern Virginia Pre-Employment & Polygraph Services, and asked him to interpret results of Fraley’s polygraph.

Following the investigation into McAlister, the town of Purcellville placed Vanegas on administrative leave and began its own investigation after getting wind of an alleged relationship between Nuckolls and Vanegas.

Through the investigation, it was revealed that the complaints against McAlister in 2017 were not on sustainable grounds, and she and Fraley were reinstated in August of 2018.

Purcellville Town Manager, David Mekarski says, “As Town Manager, I am grateful to the officers who served the community with distinction while the Town conducted these investigations, and am eager to shift focus to strengthening all functions of the police department.”