Council member appealing convictions

Rich Orndorff

Rich Orndorff

A General District Court judge sentenced Strasburg town council member Richard Allen Orndorff Jr. on Monday to one year unsupervised probation after finding him guilty of drunk driving, but the case isn’t over yet.

Orndorff’s attorney, Phillip S. Griffin II, said he is appealing the conviction in Shenandoah County Circuit Court. Griffin said he is also appealing two other convictions – driving while on a suspended license and speeding at 40 mph in a 25 mph zone – both of which sprang from the same traffic stop as the drunk driving charge.

“I’m not going to offer any comment,” Orndorff said hours after his court appearance. He referred questions to Griffin.

Orndorff was stopped by Woodstock police officer Joshua Wilberger on June 4 in the area of North Main Street and Mill Road.

“Upon making contact with the accused, I detected an odor of alcoholic beverages coming from his mouth as he spoke,” Wilberger wrote in a criminal complaint.

Wilberger added that Ordnorff blew a .104 in a roadside breath test and “showed impairment” during four field sobriety tests. Another breath test administered later in the jail registered a blood alcohol level of .10. The legal limit in Virginia is .08.

Orndorff pleaded not guilty to all three charges in Monday’s trial. His drunk driving sentence included a 60-day suspended jail sentence, a one-year driver’s license suspension and a $500 fine, $250 of which was suspended.

Judge W. Dale Houff also imposed a $100 fine for the driving under suspension offense and a $90 fine for the speeding violation.

Griffin said Orndorff’s bench trial included videotape evidence from Wilberger’s body camera.

“It appeared, in my view, to support the defense argument that [Orndorff] was not under the influence of alcohol because it appears that he had passed the field sobriety test,” Griffin said.

Griffin said the body camera also showed no indication that Orndorff’s car “was ever clocked on radar or went through radar detection and that seems bizarre.”

Griffin also disputed the driving under suspension charge. He stated that Orndorff had no previous moving violations on his driving record. Griffin contended that his client “had no notice his license was ever suspended because he has had no moving violation on his record.”

Griffin said the terms of Orndorff’s probation sentence require him to complete the Old Dominion Alcohol Safety Action Program in Winchester.

Orndorff’s first stint on the town council ran from 1990 to 2000. He was mayor from 2000 to 2003 and is the president of the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce.

Orndorff has had earlier encounters with law enforcement. He pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a family member in May 2004 and guilty to the same charge about three months later, both times in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or

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