Perryman sentenced in Strasburg theater scheme

By Joe Beck

WARRENTON — Richard Perryman, whose promise to revive the Strasburg Home Theater turned out to be a costly illusion for a Warrenton couple, was sentenced Tuesday to one year in prison on a charge of obtaining money by false pretenses.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Parker also sentenced Perryman to three years probation, two of them supervised, and ordered him to pay $112,000 restitution to the victims, Richard and Natalie Thompson. The total prison sentence is for five years, four of which are suspended.

The $112,000 represents the remaining balance on a loan Perryman obtained from the Thompsons in 2012, money they believed Perryman would repay them after he reopened the defunct theater and began earning money from it.

Natalie Thompson met Perryman through a theater group she once headed. She admitted after the hearing that she had been taken in by his acting skills.

“He’s so believable,” Thompson said. “He looks you in the eyes. I didn’t think he was that good an actor, to be honest.”

Perryman eventually repaid the Thompsons $38,000, but the theater never reopened, and the rest of their money disappeared. The Thompsons say Perryman told them that the loan would be used as a a bridge loan to pay for the theater while he was waiting to receive a loan from The Fauquier Bank, which had agreed to finance the project.

A criminal complaint signed by a Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office detective states that Perryman admitted that he never submitted any loan paperwork to the bank.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Walther quoted passages from the Bible and Shakespeare in asking Parker to impose a sentence stiffer than the state’s guidelines.

Walther argued that Perryman had shown no remorse in statements he made that went into a pre-sentencing report.

“He embezzled $150,000 by false statement from a couple that he had known for years,” Walther said.

Defense attorney Toni Martin of Herndon asked that the sentence be limited to eight months in jail. Perryman, she argued, endured a tough childhood that included a father who committed suicide before his eyes and a mother who was heavily involved in alcohol and drugs.

“This is a monetary criminal offense,” Martin said. “It is not a violent offense against a person.”

Natalie Thompson said after the hearing that she and her husband were disappointed that their hopes for reviving Strasburg’s downtown with a remodeled theater were ruined by Perryman’s actions.

“He wanted to be king of Strasburg,” Thompson said. “For a while, that’s what he was.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com