(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) A man from Lorton has been sentenced to 22 years in prison after he gave a young woman a Xanax pill laced with fentanyl and tried to hide evidence of her death in a storage shed, court documents show.
Julian A. Velasquez, 36, was sentenced yesterday (Tuesday) following a plea deal in federal court. It came after authorities found he provided the woman with the drugs, sold heroin to a man before calling 911, and lied to emergency responders, according to court documents.
Velasquez also admitted to providing narcotics to two people who died from overdoses, one in 2017 and the other in 2018.
The most recent death happened in 2020, when the woman — a friend of Velasquez from Los Angeles, who’s identified in court documents as E.M. — visited him to take drugs in anticipation of her birthday, according to an FBI affidavit. She died due to fentanyl intoxication.
“She’s no longer with her friends and her family and her community,” Fairfax County Police Department Chief Kevin Davis said of the 29-year-old victim.
FBI assistant special agent in charge Timothy Thibault also expressed his condolences to the victims’ families.
Velasquez picked up the woman from Baltimore’s international airport on Aug. 8, 2020, and he reported to 911 that she was unresponsive the evening of Aug. 9.
Before the 911 call, though, investigators found that Velasquez sold heroin to a male Vienna resident on Aug. 9, according to prosecutors.
“On August 9, 2020, Velasquez found E.M. unresponsive but he did not call 911 or seek medical assistance,” prosecutors said. “Velasquez instead called his friend and drug customer, Enoel Comsti, 27, of Vienna, to assist in removing evidence of drug use and drug distribution from the crime scene at Velasquez’s residence.”
Comsti saw the woman lying on the bed and attempted to administer Narcan to reverse the overdose, according to authorities. Velasquez then tried to clean up the residence and remove evidence of drug use, according to a statement of facts that he signed as part of the plea deal.
The pair then tried to reach a storage unit when Comsti’s vehicle broke down with two flat tires, according to authorities. Velasquez continued by foot to the storage unit to hide drug evidence.
After returning home, Velasquez called 911, asked for an ambulance and made false statements to emergency responders, denying that the woman had a drug overdose.
“Velasquez told the dispatcher that he could not tell if [E.M.] was breathing and indicated that it appeared that [she] was biting her tongue,” the FBI said. “Velasquez told the dispatcher that he believed [the victim] may be diabetic and confirmed to dispatch that it was possible [she] was having a diabetic emergency.”
In another plea deal, a federal judge sentenced Comsti in February to a year and nine months in prison for “aiding and abetting tampering with evidence.”
Meanwhile, authorities are currently prosecuting multiple cases caused by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in northern Virginia, federal prosecutor Jessica Aber said, in an effort to address not just low-level street crimes but international drug traffickers.
Aber said there’s a pill epidemic in the country in which pills are being laced with fentanyl. She said if you go to a party and someone gives you a pill, it could have fentanyl in it and kill you.
“If you are buying drugs on the dark web or other unlicensed licenses, you are potentially playing Russian roulette,” Thibault said. “Drug dealers are lacing virtually every drug with deadly fentanyl.”
Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on McLean’s upcoming Lidl.
The grocery store is on track to open this summer, the company says, putting the project slightly behind previous projections of a spring opening.
“Opening a beautiful, brand new store has many components,” a Lidl spokesperson told FFXnow. “…The D.C. area is our home and we can’t wait to introduce customers to the high quality experience we offer.”
Located at 1330 Chain Bridge Road, the McLean Lidl will be smaller than the Safeway that it’s replacing, which closed in April 2021. The additional space has been subdivided to make room for three other tenants.
Two of the spaces have been leased by Big Buns Damn Good Burgers and Matchbox Pizza, which were expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2022 — between April 1 and June 30. Thompson Hospitality, the group that owns both restaurants, didn’t return FFXnow’s inquiry by press time on whether that timeline is still likely.
Originally started in Germany in 1973, Lidl now operates over 11,200 stores around the world, according to its website. That includes four stores in Fairfax County, with the most recent one opening in Merrifield last summer.
While the McLean location appears to be the next one up, construction began in December on a 30,000-square-foot store in Lorton (9001 White Spruce Way). When contacted by FFXnow, Lidl indicated that it has not set a timeline for opening yet.
Lidl also has plans for a store in Chantilly, specifically at the Chantilly Crossing Shopping Center, according to county permits issued for a wall sign on Dec. 8. Marketing materials suggest the store will take over a currently vacant lot adjacent to Lee Road.
Masks Now Optional on Metro — “Effective immediately, Metro will make masks optional on Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess for its customers. Masks also will be optional for Metro employees. This change comes as a result of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suspending enforcement, while the Biden Administration reviews a federal judge’s ruling.” [WMATA]
McLean Community Center Faces Anti-Equity Backlash — Protests of a “Drag Storybook Hour” at Dolley Madison Library last summer by some McLean residents have grown into broader opposition to MCC promoting diversity and inclusion in its programming. The tension has manifested in this year’s governing board race, where nine candidates, including a former Trump administration official, are vying for three open seats. [The Washington Post]
Capital Beltway Overnight Closures Planned in Tysons — “The I-495 (Capital Beltway) general purpose lanes and 495 Express Lanes will have nightly lane closures Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23 to allow crews to set the new pedestrian bridge truss in place as part of the Tysons/Old Meadow Road Bike/Ped Improvements project.” [VDOT]
Recess for Middle Schools Approved — “Middle school students in Fairfax County, Virginia, will get a short daily recess period beginning next year. The school board voted Thursday night to update its student and staff health and wellness policy to allow for a 15-minute recess period every day.” [WTOP]
Alcorn Plans to Seek Reelection — “Barely halfway through his term as Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Walter Alcorn has announced plans to seek re-election in November 2023 to a second 4-year term…His main reason is that he wants to see initiatives that he has worked on actually implemented.” [The Connection]
Research Reveals County Libraries Were Segregated — “Yes, FCPL was segregated. Yes, separate services were provided for White residents and for Black residents. The surface answer we had provided for years gave way to the truth, that our path to desegregation was mirrored across the region for our residents.” [The UncommonWealth]
Sediment Removal Project Underway in Reston — “Fairfax County Stormwater Management will be performing a sediment removal project at dry pond 0330DP located at 11950 Walnut Branch Rd. The project will start the week of April 18 and is expected to last a few weeks.” [Reston Association/Twitter]
Volunteers Needed to Pack Ukraine Donations — All the coats and other winter clothes collected for Northern Virginia’s donation drive for Ukrainian refugees will be delivered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Oakton. Volunteers are needed on Friday and Saturday (April 22-23) to help pack the items for shipping to Poland. [Dalia Palchik/Twitter]
New Playground Opens at Lorton’s Laurel Hill Park — “The playground is appropriate for children ages 2 to 12 years old. Features include a large spinning Americans with Disabilities Act accessible play structure, small tot play composite and a large unique play structure for children 5 to 12 years old.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 47 and low of 37. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 7:51 pm. [Weather.gov]
Bode Technology, which assists Fairfax County and Virginia with forensic services, will spend $2 million to hire more staff to meet its growing needs.
Announced today (Monday) by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, the investment will help the company hire “additional senior and entry-level laboratory technicians, information technology and engineering professionals and other business support roles,” the news releases said.
“For more than 25 years, Bode Technology has called Virginia our home, and today’s announcement is a testament to that bond,” Bode Technology CEO Mike Cariola said. “To help fight crime, we need to hire the most talented scientists in the world, and the universities in Virginia and surrounding areas have been essential to our success.”
Located at 10430 Furnace Road, the company will get support from the Commonwealth through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, where state funding helps businesses recoup costs of adding jobs.
“Bode Technology is eligible to receive up to $850 per job, for a total of up to $60,350 for 71 net new jobs, from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP),” Virginia Economic Development Partnership spokesperson Suzanne Clark told FFXnow in an email. “VJIP is a performance-based incentive. Once a designated funding amount is approved, companies do not receive reimbursement until they have created the minimum net new, full-time jobs to qualify for funding and the new hires have been on the company’s payroll for at least 90 days.”
The company currently has 250 employees.
The governor’s news release noted that the state’s economic development authority worked with the Fairfax County EDA through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, which provides consultative services and funding to companies creating new jobs to support employee recruitment and training activities.
Bode Technology uses DNA to help law enforcement agencies track criminals, and it also reduces backlogs by processing sexual assault kits, among other services. According to the company, it helped identify victims of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the remains of U.S. soldiers dating back to World War II.
“Demand for our services has increased, and today we are recruiting talented scientists from across the country to join us here in Fairfax County so that we can continue our mission,” Cariola’s statement said.
Photo via FCEDA
Construction continues on the new South County Police Station on Lorton Road.
The station will include 34,000 square feet of space and a 23,000-square-foot animal shelter. It also has 20,000 square feet of outdoor space dedicated for the shelter, a fuel island to support fleet vehicles and parking.
“The addition of the South County Police Station will allow the department to organize smaller patrol areas and decrease response times throughout the county,” a Fairfax County Police Department spokesperson told FFXnow.
While the facility isn’t slated to open until the spring of 2023, the police department is already working to recruit officers. A hiring event is scheduled for Friday (April 8) at the Workhouse Arts Center.
The FCPD has added 70 positions over the past few years in preparation for the new station. An additional $290,000 for two initial positions to staff the animal shelter has been proposed in the county’s advertised fiscal year 2023 budget, which is currently being negotiated before the Board of Supervisors’ scheduled May 10 adoption.
Voters approved a $151 million public safety bond referendum in 2015. The facility is expected to cost roughly $30 million to design and construct, according to FCPD.
Here’s more from the county on why the project was chosen:
The growing population of southern Fairfax County will be served by the new police station and animal shelter. Officers will have a shorter distance to drive when responding to calls, and officers won’t be pulled away from their own districts. The new South County Animal Shelter will offer services such as rabies clinics, pet adoptions, spay and neuter services, wildlife education and a volunteer program in a convenient location.
The project was successfully bid out to Forrester Construction in February 2021, and workers broke ground in May of last year.
The county currently has an animal shelter in Fairfax.
A heating plant abandoned when the Lorton prison closed in 2001 could eventually host Fairfax County’s vast collection of artifacts and museum objects.
Located in the Workhouse Arts Center area, the building at 8941 Workhouse Road could be transformed with a second-level addition and upgrades to meet curation standards, allowing the county to hold over 3 million artifacts in a central location.
The project will go before the county’s Planning Commission at a 7:30 p.m. meeting today (Wednesday) as part of a public facilities review process. At this time, the locations housing archaeological and museum collections are at capacity, according to the county.
Currently, the artifacts and museum objects are on display at historic sites in the county and exhibits at the James Lee Community Center in West Falls Church, the Fairfax County Government Center, and other locations.
Some objects are also housed at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park facilities near Manassas, or on temporary display for events and festivals, such as Celebrate Fairfax.
The area where the former heating plant now sits was once used as a cattle shed and hay barn for inmates at the Occoquan Workhouse, which opened in 1910 with a farm operated by prisoners serving short sentences for non-violent offenses.
“Layers of fencing and other security features (most of which have recently been removed) came only later as higher security was required in the last quarter of the twentieth century,” a report says on the workhouse, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
A Fairfax County archaeological report from Sept. 21, 2020, by senior archaeologist Aimee Wells says the workhouse’s shift to more of a medium-security prison changed the property’s use.
“The building that currently stands on the property was built in the mid-1990s as a heating plant on a concrete slab and was in use for less than a decade,” the report said.
The heating plant was decommissioned around 1998 as part of a gradual shutdown of the prison, according to the report.
The 31-foot-tall structure includes a 13,355-square-foot building. The plan currently being considered by the county calls for adding a 1,405-square-foot bump-out addition that’s nearly 21 feet tall.
“The building would include labs, storage, research rooms, offices, collections isolation rooms and the loading dock area, and a records room would be located in the bump-out addition,” a March 2022 staff report said about the project. “Site improvements include dumpster pad with screen, parking area, sidewalk/ADA accessible path, chain link fence along the site perimeter, and an access road connecting to the Workhouse Campus.”
Permits are expected to be sought in coming months through spring 2023, and construction would start, but it would rely on the next public bond cycle to finance it.
(Updated at 1:15 p.m. on 3/30/2022) Taco Rock is opening its fourth location in Northern Virginia this summer.
The taco spot, started by Chef Cordero, is expected to open at Liberty Market, a new mixed-use development in Lorton. Taco Rock will occupy roughly 2,770 square feet of space at the center, which is anchored by grocer Lidl.
Chris Saa, a senior associate with Divaris Real Estate, Inc., said that the business has experienced “wild success” at its other locations and is eyeing other spots in the region.
“The taqueria is looking to bring their unique gourmet taco offerings and exceptional margaritas throughout Northern Virginia,” Saa said in a statement.
There is no official word yet on an exact opening date, but the business is expected to open its doors this summer, according to its promotional materials.
The menu includes staples of traditional Mexican street food, including a churro ice cream sandwich, cocktails and tacos.
Liberty Market is located at the intersection of Silverbrook Road and White Spruce Way. It’s expected to wrap up construction by the end of the year.
Elm Street Development is in the process of transforming the former Lorton Prison land into a shopping center with roughly 50,000 square feet of retail and 35,000 square feet of office space. About 352 residential units are also planned surrounding the site.
Lidl is expected to open in the fall. Other tenants include a pediatric dentistry and Ledo Pizza. Space has been allocated for a brewery as well.
Fairfax County hopes to turn a site for waste into a recreational treasure, reviving plans to redevelop a landfill by I-95 that closed in 2018.
The Lorton Landfill could be transformed into a public park under a new proposal from property owner Waste Management. Dubbed Overlook Ridge Park, the amenities at 10001 Furnace Road could be completed in 2025, according to Fairfax County.
“When opened, this new passive park will be the highest point in Fairfax County, with beautiful vistas of Northern Virginia and the Potomac River, plenty of open space and a performance venue,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said in a statement.
Submitted on Feb. 11, the plan calls for bird sanctuaries, hiking and equestrian trails, picnic areas, exercise and kite-flying areas, bathroom facilities, and an amphitheater with an earthen stage.
The application is going through the county’s initial approval process for new public facilities, known as a 2232 review.
According to county staff, the site would remain privately owned, but the Fairfax County Park Authority would operate the park amenities once they are built.
“WM looks forward to continuing our partnership with Fairfax County to provide a recreational area for residents of all ages to enjoy,” Waste Management public affairs director Lisa Kardell said, declining to answer how insurance liability would work.
Waste Management took over the Lorton Landfill when it acquired former property owner EnviroSolutions in 2018.
Efforts to redevelop the landfill have repeatedly stalled.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors denied a proposal in 2014 to continue landfill operations through Dec. 31, 2040, with the addition of solar panels, a methane-capturing system to create electricity, a baseball hitting area, and a golf range.
In that application, county staff said all structures atop the landfill should be open-air facilities to prevent the build-up of landfill gases. The site continues to undergo regular inspections for runoff that discharges to the area’s sanitary sewer system.
In an August 2020 letter to the county, Furnace Associates requested that BMX trails not be considered for the landfill, saying that they could create safety hazards and would need to be removed along with other paths and trail bridges.
Brian Lemon, who recently rode near the landfill on his mountain bike, said even if more trails were added to the landfill, he’d want others to go down them first.
“I would bike it if it was developed,” the Woodbridge resident said.
The Lorton Landfill collected construction and demolition debris. County staff noted that the type of waste generally raises less of a concern about odors, compared to sites like the county’s I-95 Landfill Complex that accept food and household waste.
Nearby, the company Alpine X wants to build an indoor ski resort called Fairfax Peak on top of another I-95 landfill area between Route 123 and Mordor Drive.
Woman Dies in Crash on I-495 — Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal crash on I-495 near the Eisenhower Avenue Connector in the Rose Hill area. The crash occurred at 9:27 p.m. on Saturday (March 5) when a sedan hit a disabled vehicle, causing it to catch fire. The driver of the disabled vehicle died at the scene, while the sedan driver suffered minor injuries and was arrested on multiple charges, including driving under the influence. [Virginia State Police, InsideNova]
Trial for McLean Murder Suspect Begins — “Fairfax County police quickly announced that what unfolded inside the large, yellow home in McLean in 2017 appeared to be a tragic murder-suicide…But after a 16-month investigation, police offered a stunning turnabout: what initially appeared to be a murder-suicide was allegedly a double killing. They claimed the scene had been carefully staged by the real perpetrator.” [The Washington Post]
I-66 to Close Overnight in Fairfax This Week — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 50 will close nightly, March 9-12, to allow for installation of bridge beams for a new access ramp from the future westbound I-66 Express Lanes to Route 50 West as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.” [VDOT]
No Injuries Reported in Reston Shooting Incident — Police responded to the 2200 block of Castle Rock Square around 11:17 p.m. last Tuesday (March 1) after members of the Shadowood Condominium complex community reported hearing gunshots. Officers found damage to a buildings and numerous cartridge cases in the area. [Patch]
Lorton Pizza Restaurant Robbed — According to Fairfax County police, a man entered Antonelli’s Pizza (8212 Gunston Corner Lane) around 9:53 p.m. on March 1 and assaulted an employee. The man walked behind the counter, discharged a firearm, and took property before leaving. The employee was treated for injuries considered not life threatening. [FCPD]
Sheriff’s Office Expands Mental Health Services for Staff — “Dr. Grace Davidson, Licensed Professional Counselor, recently joined the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office under contract full-time to provide behavioral health services for the agency’s 550 employees and their families.” [Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office]
McLean Teacher Gives Art Class to Support Ukraine Relief — “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pamela Saunders has used art as a way to keep children engaged during virtual learning. Now she can use her platform as a way to show support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion.” [Patch]
Work Begins Today on New Lorton Playground — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will soon begin work on a new playground at Laurel Hill Central Green. Construction is scheduled to start the week of March 7 and is anticipated to be completed next month.” [FCPA/Twitter]
New Sidewalk Built to Park in Groveton — “The Telegraph Road Walkway project features more than half a mile of new sidewalk along the south side of Telegraph Road from 500 feet north of S. Kings Highway to the entrance of Lee District Park and Rose Hill Road. Watch the ribbon cutting ceremony.” [Fairfax TV Channel 16/Twitter]
It’s Monday — Showers are likely and possibly a thunderstorm, mainly after 4 p.m. Today will have a high near 80 and low near 42. It will be breezy, with a southwest wind 11 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Sunrise was at 6:30 a.m. and sunset will be at 6:08 p.m. [weather.gov]
Metro Gets More ARPA Funding — “Another $120 million in federal pandemic relief money is being released to Metro to keep the transit system running and its front-line workers on the job, congressional leaders announced Thursday.” [The Washington Post]
Multiple I-66 Closures Start Today — Construction on a new I-66 East access ramp will reduce the highway to a single travel lane approaching Cedar Lane in the Dunn Loring area during overnight hours, starting at 10 p.m. today (Friday) through Wednesday (March 9). Construction will also close the I-66 West ramp to Nutley Street in Vienna from 10 p.m. tonight until 5 a.m. Monday (March 7). [VDOT, Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Local Bakers Fundraise for Ukraine — “Sarah Marshall, owner of Vienna-based The Sweet Life NoVA, knew baking was a way to help when seeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the news…The  bakers each contributed desserts for boxes of baked goods with all proceeds supporting humanitarian relief in Ukraine.” [Patch]
McLean Restaurant Adds Second Location — The Union, an Asian fusion restaurant that opened in McLean in January 2020, is expanding to Arlington County with a new location in Virginia Square. Owner Giridhar Sastry says construction is nearly done, and the venue could start serving food by the end of this month. [ARLnow]
Reston Nonprofit Calls for Donations — “The Embry Rucker Community Shelter needs supplies, specifically toilet paper and bottled water! No need to schedule, just drop off at the back door. 11975 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston, VA 20190. Thank you in advance!” [Cornerstones/Twitter]
Deadline for Lorton Vision Survey Extended — Fairfax County has extended the deadline for its community survey on the future of the Lorton area to Tuesday (March 8). The Lorton Visioning 2040 study will update the county’s Comprehensive Plan to guide land use, public facilities, transportation infrastructure, and other needs over the next 20 years. [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
Reston Company Lands Huge Defense Contract — Leidos announced on Monday (Feb. 28) that it has been awarded a Defense Enclave Services (DES) contract worth an estimated $11.5 billion by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The contract will last at least four years with three two-year option periods. [Intelligence Community News]
County Board Celebrates GMU — “George Mason University’s president Dr. Gregory Washington, received a proclamation recognizing the university’s 50th anniversary. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay presented the proclamation to Washington on behalf of the board at its public meeting on Feb. 22, 2022.” [The Connection]
It’s Friday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 46 and low around 34. The sunrise was at 6:35 a.m. and sunset will be at 6:05 p.m. [weather.gov]