Bond rejected for extortion defendant

FRONT ROYAL – A man accused of extorting thousands of dollars from two victims as dues paid for gang membership was returned to jail without bond Wednesday after a hearing in Warren County General District Court.

The defendant, Jason Russell Dorsett, 37, of 477 Fellows Drive, Front Royal, is charged with criminal participation in a gang, threatening to bomb or burn, and extortion in a scheme that law enforcement officials say ran from February to July.

A criminal complaint states that the two victims, identified only as CSI No. 1 and CSI No. 2, told authorities they paid a total of $2,800 to Dorsett since he threatened to injure them and burn down their residence if CSI No. 1 did not pay him.

The complaint states: “Suspect has told CSI (No. 1) and CSI (No. 2) that CSI (No. 1) is now a member of the suspect’s criminal street gang and has to pay monies due to gang or suffer consequences.”

The complaint describes one incident in which Dorsett told the first CSI to get in the defendant’s vehicle where the victim saw a semi-automatic handgun in Dorsett’s lap. The CSI told authorities that Dorsett told him that “money was due,” the criminal complaint states.

The victim said he interpreted the gun as a threat directed at him if he did not pay.

Defense attorney Krystal Omps argued that Dorsett’s lifelong residence in the area was one of several factors that made him unlikely to flee while out on bail.

“I don’t think you can get any stronger ties to a community than residence here all your life,” Omps told General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff.

But Houff said Dorsett should remain held without bond.

Houff said he remained uneasy about the seriousness of the charges against Dorsett, which also include two counts of forging public records and falsely identifying oneself to law enforcement officials.

“I am concerned about the safety of other individuals if he was released while these charges are pending,” Houff said.

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