Farlow conviction has an odd twist

By Steve Vaughan

WILLIAMSBURG -- Troy Farlow had an odd reaction Tuesday for a politician confronted about a criminal conviction.

"I was relieved when I got your e-mail," he told a reporter Tuesday.

A source faxed court documents to the Gazette that indicated that Farlow was convicted in 1999 for misdemeanor hit-and-run. As such, it could devastate his run as a Democrat for the 96th House.

He insists that wasn't quite the case.

"The first thing you need to know is that I wasn't driving," he said in an interview. "That's one thing that allows me to sleep at night. The second thing is that, in the end, I did the right thing. I turned in my own father to the police."

The lawyer who defended him confirmed that Tom Farlow was driving the car the night of Oct. 15, 1995, when it was involved in accident in downtown Richmond.

Troy Farlow explained that he had a tortured relationship with his father, who divorced his mother when he was young. In 1995, at age 24, he was just starting to repair that relationship.

That's when his father ran a red light, hit another car and refused to stop.

"When the accident happened, I was basically threatened by my father,"Farlow said. "Iwas faced by being abandoned by my father again."

Attorney Irv Blank said, "Troy was definitely not driving. His father was driving and apparently drinking,"Blanks said by phone from his Richmond office.

Farlow says his father, who was in insurance company executive, feared that a conviction would ruin his career.

"He even tried to get my stepbrother to take the blame, because he was 18 and they'd go easier," Farlow recalled.

Out of loyalty to his father, Farlow kept quiet four years.

Eventually, "I couldn't take it," he said. "I had a crisis of conscience and got myself a lawyer and went to the Richmond police and turned my own father in. I was literally there crying, telling the police what happened," he said. "I'm proud that I did the right thing."

Blank confirmed that.

"He didn't want to testify against his father, but he said 'I'm going to do the right thing,' and we went and sat with the commonwealth's attorney and the police for a long time, and he told them what happened," Blank said.

Troy Farlow was charged because a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident is required under Virginia law to report it within 24 hours if the driver does not.

Once he confessed, Troy Farlow was initially charged with felony hit-and-run, but it was reduced to a misdemeanor and he was fined $250. Had he not turned himself in, it's unlikely he or his father would have been found out.

Tom Farlow, who was represented by other lawyers, was not tried on the hit-and-run after his son turned him in.

"I remember thinking that he has gotten a raw deal from the system," Blank said of Troy Farlow. "He was put in a position where he had to testify against his father, and they forced a misdemeanor conviction."

Laura Farlow, Troy's wife, accompanied him to an interview at the Gazette. While he was reticent to criticize his father, his wife was not.

"In spite of not always having it easy, Troy has managed to overcome adversity and still wants to make a difference in the world," she said.

Farlow said that over the years, as he's dedicated himself to public service as an aide to legislative officials and now as a candidate for the 96th House, he worried that the accident would come up.

"The weight of the world is off my shoulders," he said.

The leaks also included details of two reckless driving charges for exceeding the speed limit by more than 20 mph, one in Albemarle in 1998 and one in York County earlier this year.

The source who provided the court documents did so on condition of confidentiality. The source was not directly related to the campaign of Farlow's Republican opponent, Brenda Pogge.

Reached Tuesday, Pogge declined to comment. "I'm shocked,"she said. "I don't want to say anything about that."

Nonetheless, Farlow considers the leaks a smear campaign.

"This is the politics of personal destruction," he said. "When they can't win on the issues and positions, this is where they go. I can't believe they are accusing me of speeding when their candidate is being sued for election fraud."

York County Supervisor Sheila Noll, who lost the Republican nomination to Pogge by 23 votes, has sued Pogge, the state party and the 96th District Republican Committee, charging that Pogge's campaign engaged in fraud. The case is to be heard Wednesday in Chesterfield Circuit Court.

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