August 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Fairfax City mayor arrested in meth-for-sex sting

R. Scott Silverthorne, gay news, Washington Blade

R. Scott Silverthorne (Photo courtesy of the Fairfax County Police Department)

In a development that stunned his colleagues and constituents, Fairfax County police on Thursday night arrested Fairfax City Mayor R. Scott Silverthorne, 50, for allegedly using a website to exchange methamphetamine for sex with other men.

In a statement released Friday morning, Fairfax County police said Silverthorne’s arrest on a felony charge of distribution of methamphetamine and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia stemmed from a sting operation they began after learning through a tip that he was allegedly distributing meth through a sex hook-up website.

“Based on information obtained during the investigation, a suspect was identified who was allegedly distributing methamphetamine through a website used to arrange for casual sexual encounters between men,” the statement says.

“An undercover detective created a profile on this website and within a few days the suspect made contact through the website,” the police statement says.

Neither the police statement nor a police official who discussed Silverthorne’s arrest during a news conference Friday morning disclosed the name of the website.

The statement says the suspect, who was later identified as Silverthorne, and the undercover detective exchanged messages through the website and later through text messaging.

“During the course of communication, the suspect advised that he could provide methamphetamine for sexual encounters,” the statement continues. “Undercover detectives agreed to meet the suspect for a group sexual encounter in exchange for methamphetamine,” it says.

According to the statement, detectives with the department’s Organized Crime and Narcotics Division met Silverthorne at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tysons Corner and placed him under arrest after he provided them with methamphetamine.

Police later located two of the suppliers that allegedly provided Silverthorne with the methamphetamine and arrested them. The statement identifies them as Juan Jose Fernandez, 34, and Caustin Lee McLaughlin, 31, both of Maryland.

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

Police said they transported the three men to the Fairfax County jail after their arrests Thursday night. Silverthorne was released on his own recognizance and ordered to appear for an arraignment on Aug. 10 in Fairfax General District Court. The other two men were being held as of Friday afternoon.

Fairfax City officials announced that under a city law, Council member Jeffrey Greenfield was appointed acting mayor until the issues surrounding Silverthorne’s arrest are resolved.

In May, Silverthorne won election to his third term as mayor. He previously has served nine terms on the Fairfax City Council.

Fairfax County Schools announced on Friday that the public school system dismissed Silverthorne from his job as a substitute teacher following news of his arrest.

The Washington Post reported that Silverthorne was open about having fallen on hard times over the past year. The Post said he was laid off from his regular full-time job as recruitment director with the National Association of Manufacturers in June 2015.

A bank later foreclosed on his five-bedroom house, and he moved in with a friend, according to the Post. He filed for federal bankruptcy and was being treated for neck cancer, the Post said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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