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Civil suit filed against Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford

Questions regarding use of county credit cards spurred records request

<p>Lunsford has a right to demand a fee with the release of the documents, Hardin said, but he believes this fee is unwarranted.</p>

Lunsford has a right to demand a fee with the release of the documents, Hardin said, but he believes this fee is unwarranted.

Attorney Matthew Hardin filed a civil suit against Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford to compel her to release records relating to past investigations, as well as her use of county credit cards.

Lunsford has taken the lead on Albemarle County's case against Jesse Matthew, who is charged with capital murder and abduction with intent to defile in the case of late University student Hannah Graham.

Hardin is working on behalf of Tyler Pieron, who previously filed a request under open records laws on Oct. 21.

“There were questions in the media about whether she was paying for her trips — personal trips — with county funds,” Hardin said.

Lunsford responded with a fee request of $3,199 to locate the documents. Lunsford also said the process would take about five weeks, although the records request asks for a response within five days.

Lunsford is currently running for re-election as Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney, a position she has held since 2008.

Meanwhile, the process of compelling Lunsford through the court system to release the requested documents may take 21 to 30 days from the time the suit was originally filed.

Lunsford has a right to demand a fee with the release of the documents, Hardin said, but he believes this fee is unwarranted.

“Yes, she has a right to be compensated for her time, but it shouldn’t necessarily be her who has to look for the records,” Hardin said.

A secretary or another employee of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office should be able to search for the documents at a lesser charge, Hardin said.

Hardin also said he filed a similar request for documents with Albemarle County’s Department of Finance, which responded within five days and proffered the documents free of charge.

The records should not be difficult to locate for the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Hardin said.

“It’s just very interesting that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office is concerned with taking more time and charging more fees,” Hardin said. “To me that just shows they have something to hide.”


Lunsford could not be reached for comment.

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