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Judge: No public defender in Dumpster meat case

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Rodney Sparks


By Joe Beck - jbeck@nvdaily.com

Rodney L. Cole Sparks, a Front Royal businessman facing charges of selling tainted meat from his store at 654 W. 11th St., said Tuesday he would represent himself in court after his public defender withdrew from the case and Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp refused to appoint a new one.

Hupp concluded Sparks has enough money to hire his own attorney after poring over financial statements listing Sparks' income and property owned in Front Royal and Monrovia, Md.

Hupp said the financial statements included a tax assessment that pegged the value of Sparks' Maryland home and its 6-acre lot at $398,000 and the purchase value of his store property in Front Royal at $62,000. Hupp said Sparks also appeared to have a positive cash flow from his business, a finding that Sparks disputed vigorously in an interview after the hearing.

Sparks is charged with 10 counts of offering adulterated and misbranded meat for sale in his salvage store, Rodney's Discount Foods.

The criminal complaint filed against Sparks describes meat found by state inspectors at the store as "putrid, decomposed, unsound, unhealthful, unwholesome and ... unfit for human food."

The complaint also states that an investigation traced the meat back to the Food Lion Supermarket in Berryville, where store employees said they had seen Sparks "on numerous dates" taking discarded food from the store's Dumpster.

Sparks told Hupp that he could not afford his own attorney, despite the judge's finding that Sparks was not eligible for a public defender. Sparks represented himself after Assistant Public Defender Margarita Wood withdrew as his court-appointed attorney at the beginning of the hearing.

"I think my communication between my client and me has deteriorated to the point where I cannot adequately represent him," Wood told Hupp.

"My client believes I have been economically influenced," she added.

The hearing was scheduled after Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Madden asked for proof that Sparks lacked the money to pay for his own attorney. Under questioning from Madden, Sparks said his store is open four days a week, and he spends much of his remaining time scouring stores in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for merchandise that he buys for resale at his Front Royal business.

Sparks told Madden the names of the stores he visited, but couldn't remember the names of the towns in which they are located.

Sparks fumed at the judge's decision to deny him a public defender in a later interview.

"It's just the good old boys," he said of the outcome of the hearing.

Sparks insisted his store has a negative cash flow, and he has been denied a loan for lack of proof that he has been earning money.

"Just because I have property, they think I can do something with it," Sparks said, adding that he believed his store "can be a good business if people just let me do it."

Sparks also complained about a pair of state food inspectors who attended the hearing but were not called to testify after waiting all morning for the case to be called.

"That's a waste of taxpayers' dollars for them to come here for no reason at all," he said.




21 Comments



Allowing Rodney to have a public defender would have been "a waste of taxpayers' dollars. So glad to see the truth coming out. So glad to see the Commonwealth of Virginia doing their job and the inspectors doing their job. Very refreshing to see justice being done in this case. Very glad to see his picture posted so everyone can see who has been in some dumpsters; always helps to put a face with a story. Looking forward for more information about Rodney Sparks. Thanks Virginia.

Thanks to the Commonwealth for not allowing Mr. Sparks to pull yet another scam on the citizens of Virginia, glad to see his picture out there so folks will be aware of who he is, Mr Sparks should look at all his receipts to know where the stores are located that he claims he purchase merchandise from, oh, that`s right, dumpsters don`t give out receipts.

How low will you go? Rodney Sparks, let's all keep that name in mind in case he opens another little business.

It's amazing to me that anyone would try to pull off this kind of scam, with no regard for the unsuspecting people who deal with him, but then he believes he's entitled to a "free" attorney too.

Sparks should try his hand at politics next; sounds like a natural to me.

Maybe Food Lion and other stores should start securing these dumpsters. Wonder how many people became ill or worse, and never suspected tainted meat? Hope they throw the book at him and send a message to future crooks.

Check out his house and property from today`s "Frederick News Post" in Maryland on Line, not bad from a man who claims his store works off of a negative cash flow!

How does anyone live on a business that supports a negative cash flow? Who pays Rodney's bills? Everyone has bills. Electric, telephone, medical, cable, food, clothes, schooling for children, insurance, vehicles, mortgages, etc. I am a bit confused. Also, how does a businessman buy merchandise for his store to sell and not keep receipts for business tax records? Most receipts have the store name, telephone number and address on them so he should be able to tell where he has been by simply looking at his receipts. This story sounds fishy I believe. Most stores have merchandise delivered to them in trucks. I know this because I have seen bread trucks, etc. outside of grocery stores unloading bread or whatever. Who would go to work everyday and not bring home a paycheck? No me - I am a lot smarter than that.

Its simple Sassy,he`s a scam artist of the worst kind,victimizing the poor, getting rich, pretending to help low income families while he`s selling them bad meat that only God knows where it has been, now he`s calling the Judge, Commonwealth Attorney, and the meat inspector "the good old boys" for doing their jobs, I hope they put this sick guy in jail for along time, I believe otherwise he will keep doing this until he is stopped.

I'm sorry you all are hillarious. I'm sure I'm going to be verbally beaten for this....but..

I bet most of the ones speaking on here do not live in "the village". From what I'm hearing from something on here a while back, that the place is still in operation. I've visited this establishment before all this publicity, and my 2 visits, never did purchase any frozen meats, just some good ole potatoe chips. The price was right.

If I ride by their tommorow, and I see the open sign "on". I may still go inside and get me some chips.

Hilarious shendoah1? I think you are irresponsible to even make a comment like that, what would you think or feel if a small child died from eating that meat? Wake up!

I would hope that the parents have read these comments like yours in the NVD and not buy any meat at the store. I figure the chips are unopen, and surely have a date on them.

I guess, if i really heard of anyone dying from this store. Has anyong gotten sick? Maybe? Or maybe I havent been following the news on this? T
rue, I think dumpster diving for things that spoil is relatively grotesque. I'll still eat some chips that have a slightly old date on them, it they are unopened.

shendoah1, I believe this guy has done this for many years in many places, God only knows if people have died, who would know? They need to shut this guy down and do a full investigation, making sure that food is safe from proper suppliers with receipts.

I believe that this store should not be allowed to sell any food item without a bill of sale from a producer/distributor because of his previous actions. I believe that this store should be inspected everyday to make sure no food item has been opened or re-packaged. No one should have to buy and eat "used" food. Because that is what I call it once it is thrown into a hot, rat-infested, stinky outside dumpster. I also call it 100 percent profit in the cash register.

This is awful, the man knew the meat he was selling was tainted. This is an example of someone profiting from the disadvantaged. I think his punishment should be eating some of this meat. One may not get sick and die from it but it certainly is a risk of getting very ill. Once meat starts the decomposition process bacteria starts its job. Many times when bacteria is frozen, or re frozen, it can survive the conditions. It will simply resume where it left off when thawed. Some bacteria can survive extreme heat, meaning cooking does nothing. A person who sells tainted meat knows he is selling bad meat. He does not need to be a scholar to know what he is doing is wrong or dangerous.
Judge Hupp, if you read this please take into consideration this man is a danger to citizens of Front Royal and profitted by exploiting people who have limited finances or thought they were buying a good product to provide for their family. To make a profit by endangering lives is gross negligence. Knowing the meat was bad and people were going to purchase and eat it means he knowingly endangered public safety.

And for those who think I am over the top on this, you obviously have never had an illness from bad meat. I cannot describe the pain or the gruesome details in a message.

PLEASE - PLEASE - SHUT THIS STORE DOWN NOW. THIS COULD BE A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.

I wonder if any of the people commenting are from the Royalist of Royal Villages?...LOL

I really have no clue if the store is open. Just heard it was open from a comment on here a while back. My route takes me to front royal tommorow the 21st. If it is open I'll let you know how the chips taste. I might even check out the frozen meats also...atleast the dates that is.

What does it matter where we are from? Also, regarding the dates on the meat, that would be least of my concerns. You can have a bad piece of meat within a "good date". Take a close look at this food, even your chips. Good luck.

Why is this store still open for business? I hope the Commonwealth of Virginia realizes that they are now 100 percent liable for what happens to people if they become ill. Only you Virginia can prevent any death or illness associated with this store. You now have full knowledge of what is happening. It is up to you to CLOSE DOWN THIS STORE.

I would not cut any slack on someone who would take advantage of people of lesser standing than himself. How dare he think he can break the rules set up by the Food and Drug Administration as far as selling tainted meat. Someone I know bought meat from there and cooked and ate it and became sick. He didn't think of anyone else but himself, so why would he expect the tax payers to cut him slack. YEAH RIGHT!

ntmeghst, you may want to let the CommonWealth Attorney office know about your friend getting sick, and anyone else out there that has been sicken after buying products from this guy.

Is this store still open for business? If so, why? Where are the people from the Health Department? Do you know how many other people have been sick? I think all of the food could be bad. Wake up people - you deserve better.



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