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Judge sets date for Prince lawsuits

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK - A Toms Brook man's lawsuits against two financial institutions and the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors continue to move through the local court.

Judge Dennis Hupp in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Thursday scheduled a hearing date of March 28 for three separate cases filed by Mark Prince last year. All three lawsuits make claims under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act and were originally filed under seal. Hupp indicated he would unseal the last of the three.

Prince has claimed that the Board of Supervisors violated the state constitution by making the county take on debt to pay for multi-million projects without the consent of the voters.

The lawsuits separately name U.S. Bank National Association, SunTrust Bank and the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors as defendants. Since the cases involve the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act the Virginia Office of the Attorney General has become involved.

County Attorney J. Jay Litten appeared for the Board of Supervisors. Legal counsel representing the attorney general and SunTrust Bank attended the hearing via telephone.

Prince also had filed a lawsuit against the county board over the financing for the Edinburg School renovation project. Hupp granted a request by Litten and ordered Prince and Martha Shruntz to pay more than $1,269 for the cost to advertise the case in the newspaper. Pollack, representing Shruntz, argued that the court did not need to order the public advertisement. Hupp cited code that did require the public notice.

Litten told Hupp he didn't feel the taxpayers should have to pay the cost for a case in which the locality prevailed.

Prince told the court he would assume responsibility for Shruntz' share of the costs. Hupp noted that should Prince decide to appeal the case the plaintiff can secure a bond to cover the costs during the appeals process. Otherwise Prince has 30 days to pay the award.

But Prince had hoped the judge would wait to schedule any hearings on the more recent lawsuits until after the Virginia Supreme Court acted on a request for an appeal of a case contesting the financing of the regional jail currently under construction in Warren County.

Hupp last year dismissed the case Prince filed in which he sued several parties over the financing for the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail. Prince named SunTrust, the Virginia Resources Authority and the jail authority board as defendants. Prince argued the entities moved forward on the financing of the $80 million project against state law.

Prince told Hupp that a major part of the case over the jail financing also relates to current suits in the circuit court.

Hupp said Prince's newer lawsuits are unrelated to the case addressed by a panel of judges Tuesday in the Supreme Court. Hupp noted that when the Supreme Court panel will render a ruling on Prince's petition for an appeal remains unknown.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


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