Eden Center Raid Controversy Continues;
Charges Against Four Suspects Dismissed, One Acquitted

September 15, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

September 15, 2011

The controversy over last month’s raid at the Eden Center continued yesterday as a group of protesters congregated outside Falls Church City Hall.  Inside, misdemeanor gambling charges against four defendants were dismissed by the prosecutor in General District Court after a fifth defendant was acquitted.

The protesters stood between American and South Vietnamese flags and behind a banner proclaiming “We Demand Equal Rights in Falls Church.”  Yesterday’s demonstration followed Monday evening’s City Council session during which Vietnamese-American business leaders and Eden Center patrons voiced their concerns over the conduct of Falls Church police during the August 11 raid and on other recent occasions.

The raid, organized and executed by the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, of which FCPD is a member, confiscated over $1 million in cash and 70 gambling devices valued at $200,000.  Police served felony search warrants at thirteen Eden Center restaurants and arrested nineteen people for various misdemeanor offenses, including gambling, fireworks, and ABC violations.

One suspect has since pleaded guilty to illegal gambling.  The remaining defendants have court dates either in October or November.

No felony arrests were made, but Task Force officials stated that several were pending.  The Task Force commander, Lt. Dan Hess of  Prince William County, said that the activity was controlled by a primarily Vietnamese-American gang known as the Dragon family, whose activities had “paralyzed the Eden Center community.”

Speakers at Monday’s meeting saw the action in a different light.  Several insisted that they had never heard of the Dragon gang and charged that subsequent media accounts of the raid had created a false and negative image of the Eden Center, resulting in a decline in business.

Attorney Due H. Tran called for increasing the dialogue between the Council and Center businesses and recommended community policing.  Other speakers cited incidents unrelated to the raid as examples of “over-policing” and alleged that the police did not have a good working relationship with the business owners and the Vietnamese community even before the raid.

During the meeting Mayor Nader Baroukh and other Council members declined comment on the raid and the ongoing investigation.  He said that the City was ready to meet with Eden Center officials to discuss matters such as tensions with the police.

The mayor said later that the Council and the City look forward to continuing their good relationship with Eden Center businesses. “The Center is an important part of the Falls Church community and we welcome the opportunity for more dialogue and cooperation,” said Mr. Baroukh.  “In addition, public safety for residents and visitors will continue to be a high priority at the Eden Center and throughout Falls Church.”

In a statement released yesterday evening, Falls Church City Chief of Police Harry Reitze said that his department is committed to providing a safe environment for all who live, work or visit.

“FCPD has practiced Community Policing at the Eden Center since its founding, with placement of an on-site field office and foot patrols which strengthens information sharing,” he said.  “FCPD has a long-standing, sound relationship with the Eden Center, and has been asked on occasion to increase it patrols and to enforce violations of smoking, gambling and other activities.”

The chief added that FCPD has been asked many times by businesses and Eden Center management to ban people from the Center who may violate the law.  “FCPD will continue to work with the Eden Center management and business owners to maintain a safe and welcoming environment,” he concluded.

A tape of Monday’s Council session is available here. The speakers’ comments concerning the Eden Center begin at 00.23.20.


Mustang Field Hockey Launches Inaugural Season

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Field Hockey has come to Falls Church City! The inaugural season of Mustang Field Hockey has gotten underway. The team, comprised of 26 George Mason High School girls and coached by TJ teachers, Jill Prince and Briana Solomita, looks forward to their first season of scrimmaging against other local high school club teams (schedule TBA soon). In the meantime, the team practices 3 times a week at Larry Graves Field developing their stick skills and drills.

The community is invited to the team’s yard sale this Saturday, September 17th at 500 Greenwich Street from 8 AM to noon. All proceeds and donations will go towards purchasing goals, goalie equipment and uniforms. For more information visit their website at https://sites.google.com/site/mustangfieldhockey/home.