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Former SW Va. police officer charged with impersonating a marshal

Wes Bunch • Feb 6, 2014 at 6:35 PM

BIG STONE GAP — A Southwest Virginia man was arrested Wednesday by federal agents for allegedly impersonating a U.S. marshal in order to coerce a woman into performing sexual acts with him.Richard Wayne Parsons, 35, of Jonesville, is charged with a single federal count of impersonating a deputy U.S. marshal. He was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshal's Service and the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Parsons was previously employed as a patrolman for the town of Pennington Gap Police Department until September of 2011. Specifics of his unemployment were not immediately available.

A criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Big Stone Gap shows that authorities began their investigation on Monday after the sheriff's office received a report from a Lee County woman identified as "Victim 1."According to an interview conducted by Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew S. Davis, the alleged victim said she was contacted on Monday by Parsons, with whom she had recently exchanged numbers, while driving to Kingsport.During the phone call, Parsons allegedly told the woman that she needed to stop and meet him and that he would pull her over if she did not.After reportedly declining to stop twice, the woman agreed after Parsons informed her that he was a U.S. marshal and needed to meet with her as soon as possible.As a result, the woman reportedly met Parsons at a gas station in Lee County, where she allegedly entered his vehicle to speak with him.Once inside the vehicle, Parsons allegedly told the woman again that he was a member of the Marshals Service before showing her a black pistol "which he called a 45."While in the car, Parsons reportedly told the woman that he kept the loaded gun in the back of his pants "until he had to use it." He also allegedly told her that he had arrested Jeremy Lynn Mitchell following his two-day escape last week from the Lee County Courthouse and that he had used the gun to shoot a suspect on bath salts by "blowing the back of his head out."The woman told investigators that Parsons put the loaded gun on the dash of the vehicle pointing towards her and informed her that she was the target of a large-scale drug investigation by the ATF and that he was trying to protect her.The complaint alleges that Parsons said, "You owe me, I've got your back" to the woman before he placed his hand on hers and began rubbing it.Parsons then allegedly pulled the woman onto his lap and began kissing her, the complaint shows.The woman reportedly tried to avoid Parsons' advances and tell him no, but the complaint alleges that he began touching her genitals and exposing his to her.At that point, Parsons allegedly told the victim, "You do owe me, you don't want me to take you before a federal judge in Abingdon and get 10 years in prison" before forcing her to perform oral sex on him in the vehicle.The woman reportedly contacted the Lee County Sheriff's Office two days after the alleged incident, telling investigators that Parsons had been calling and texting her in an attempt to get her to contact him. The woman reportedly saved the messages before turning them over to investigators.Following her Feb. 5 interview with authorities, the woman agreed to text Parsons while in front of investigators, who reportedly witnessed the incoming and outgoing messages.The complaint states that Parsons confirmed in the texts that he had spoken with the ATF and that the victim was no longer being watched by federal authorities. He also allegedly stated that he had not bragged about the sexual contact between them to his "marshal buddies" and confirmed that his position as a marshal allowed him to protect her from the investigation.A preliminary hearing for Parsons was held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Big Stone Gap federal court. He is currently being held on a $10,000 unsecured bond at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon.

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