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Politics, Michael Vick Have Eddie Vaughn Eyeing Surry Post

Hanover County may not have Eddie Vaughn to kick around for much longer -- at least not for the one or two days a month when Surry County Circuit Court convenes.

Vaughn, who was unseated as Hanover County commonwealth's attorney in 1999, has his dog in the fight for the office of Surry County commonwealth's attorney, which garnered statewide attention in the Michael Vick dog-fighting case.

"I'm running as a write-in," says Vaughn, who was called about running in the summer by folks in Surry. He says they were fed up with the county's prosecutor, Gerald Poindexter, and with what they saw as Poindexter's hesitancy in prosecuting black defendants, particularly in drug cases.

Recently, Poindexter has come under fire for failing to act quickly in the Michael Vick case. In May, he refused to execute a search warrant at the 15-acre property that Vick eventually admitted was home base for his dog-fighting operation. Ultimately federal agents uncovered a burial ground for executed K-9s on the property.

Vick, the superstar Atlanta Falcons quarterback and Newport News native, pleaded guilty in August to dog-fighting-related federal charges, as did his three co-defendants. Poindexter brought local charges in August, but not before expressing shock at many of the findings in the federal indictment.

If Vaughn beats Poindexter, he could find himself faced with prosecuting Vick, who is expected to appear in Surry court Nov. 27. The case could roll over into 2008, after the winner of the election takes office.

Vaughn was a long-time commonwealth's attorney and tried and won Hanover's only death-penalty case. He's not without his share of political baggage.

In 1996, a special prosecutor and special grand jury in Chesterfield County examined a variety of allegations against Vaughn, including whether he obstructed drug-related investigations of alleged associates, which in turn dredged up allegations of Vaughn's marital infidelity and other embarrassing details. But, in the end, the investigation yielded no criminal or civil charges.

The experience was humiliating for Vaughn — police also investigated, albeit briefly, a fecal smear found in his office chair in June 1996 — and likely cost him his prosecutor's job. Vaughn also had a falling out with Hanover Sheriff Col. V. Stuart Cook, whose office vigorously investigated Vaughn and his office during the same period.

Vaughn says that the water under the bridge from back then "is what it is" and he emphasizes that the investigations led nowhere. The story of his alleged impropriety "wasn't accurate 20 years ago. It wasn't accurate 10 years ago."

If he wins, Vaughn won't disappear entirely from Hanover County Courthouse, where he's worked as a defense attorney since losing the 1999 race to Kirby Porter. The Surry prosecutor is a part-time job.

Vaughn says he's running to win in November, but he's not selling the farm in Hanover just yet: "We're renting a place down there now with the idea of seeing how this goes." S

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