By Joe Beck
An embattled neighborhood store with an owner facing charges of mislabeling meat and keeping improper sales records appears to have closed for good.
Rodney's Discount Foods at 654 W. 11th St., Front Royal, was ordered closed as a condition of a bail set for the owner at a hearing in early September. General District Judge W. Dale Houff imposed the closing while Rodney Sparks is facing two counts of failing to keep records that fully disclose all transactions at the store and two counts of offering misbranded meats for sale.
Houff also banned Sparks from operating any other commercial business in Front Royal and selling or distributing meat anywhere in Virginia while the case is pending. Sparks was released from jail on Sept. 5 after posting $5,000 secured bail.
A sign posted on the store Thursday said the business was closed for good.
Sparks, 55, of Monrovia, Md., could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Brad Pollack of Woodstock, said the case is "very sensitive" and refused to comment on the store closing.
"I just don't want to say anything that's going to harm my client," Pollack said.
The case is Sparks' second run-in with the law connected with his operation of the store.
He was placed on two years unsupervised probation earlier this year and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine after entering an Alford plea of guilty to 10 counts of offering tainted meat for sale.
An Alford plea means a defendant believes the prosecution has enough evidence to win a conviction from a jury, although the defendant continues to insist on his innocence.
Court documents from the earlier case say Sparks took "putrid" meat from a Food Lion Dumpster in Berryville and placed the meat in his store. Sparks said in an interview with The Northern Virginia Daily that he only used the meat to feed several dozen cats at his home in Monrovia.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org