Marston’s campaign manager cleared of charge
Published 8:17 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Crystal Hallinen — the former campaign manager for a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates who was charged with misdemeanor trespassing — has been found not guilty of an allegation of filing a false statement of residency.
A district court judge threw out the case against her during an early February hearing, said her attorney Joe Morrissey.
In early January, a trespassing charge against Greg Marston was also thrown out.
The allegations against Marston and Hallinen were brought in the midst of his challenging long-serving Republican Tommy Wright for the 61st House seat, and from the start Marston maintained it was a personal conflict with political overtones. Marston lost the election.
Considering the timing of the allegation, Morrissey said, “There’s no question in my mind political (mischief) was going on.”
Marston maintained the charge stemmed from long-running friction with Nottoway Public School Superintendent Daniel Grounard — but that the grudge was in support of, and with the approval of, Wright, who has held the seat since first being elected in 2001.
The 61st district covers Amelia, Cumberland and Lunenburg counties, and parts of Mecklenburg and Nottoway counties.
Marston was charged after a Monday, Sept. 28, confrontation when Marston and Hallinen went to drop her daughter Caity at Nottoway Intermediate School.
They were told that the girl could not enter the school because she was considered a resident of Prince Edward. Hallinen’s younger daughter, Aiden, attended Crewe Primary School.
Marston said there was a short argument between him and the school official, but that he left peacefully — although he did leave the message for Grounard, “You bring a bone, take one back.”
Within days after that incident, Marston was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for being disruptive at the school.
Marston said the friction with Grounard centered on the years he spent trying to develop an apprenticeship program at the Amelia-Nottoway Technical Center, and Grounard was trying to give Wright credit for his work and efforts.
Meanwhile, Hallinen was accused of filing a false statement of residency.
Hallinen said she lived in Prince Edward until mid-July of last year when she moved in with Marston and his family in their Crewe home. She said her children had been allowed to attend Nottoway schools because she had worked for the system in the cafeteria at Blackstone Primary School for two years until last June.
As evidence of her residence, Hallinen pointed to a driver’s license with a Crewe address, and the fact that classwork for Aiden from the primary school was mailed to the same address.
It was with glee that Marston said he had hired the high-profile former Richmond prosecutor Morrissey as their attorney.
“Our next avenue will be a follow up civil case against Nottoway County schools or the county itself,” Hallinen said. “I’m currently awaiting the advice of my attorney to get it started.”