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Criminal Charges Revived After Phony Va. Death

May 28, 2010

Criminal charges against a Virginia man presumed dead have been revived after his arrest for a separate crime revealed him to be very much alive.

Last year, a judge dismissed attempted fraud charges against 38-year-old Rodney T. Newsome Sr. of Manassas after his lawyer submitted papers from Maryland purporting to show Newsome died after unsuccessful brain surgery.

But Newsome's reprieve was short-lived. He was arrested in February and charged with trying to open a bank account with a stolen check. A court clerk remembered Newsome's name and alerted prosecutors.

In a court appearance Wednesday in Fairfax, Newsome's new lawyer said her client was unaware of the bogus death report. The lawyer who submitted the death report, George Freeman, did not return a call seeking comment.

Newsome's current attorney, Lavonda Graham, said her client was genuinely surprised when he learned that previous charges had been dropped because of his supposed death. And she said none of the documents claiming Newsome died appear to have his handwriting on them.

She said she was still investigating what happened but speculated that perhaps an overzealous friend or family member created the document without his knowledge.

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