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Virginia Del. Matt Fariss charged in alleged hit-and-run

Matt Farris_030723_AP
Steve Helber
Virginia Del. Matt Fariss gestures during the House session at the state Capitol, Jan. 31, 2022, in Richmond.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Republican legislator who represents part of Central Virginia in the House of Delegates has been charged after Virginia State Police say he struck and injured a pedestrian while driving an SUV and left the scene.

A Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Del. Matt Fariss (R–Campbell) was traveling through Campbell County on Thursday when it crossed the center line, continued off the road and struck a pedestrian, a Virginia State Police spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“The Tahoe then left the scene. The adult female pedestrian suffered minor injuries,” VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller said in an emailed statement.

Fariss, 54, was identified as the driver after “further investigation.” He turned himself in and met a trooper at a magistrate’s office Friday, Geller said.

Fariss has been charged with one count of malicious wounding and one count of being involved in a hit-and-run, both felonies, according to Geller and online court records. He was also charged with reckless driving, a misdemeanor.

Geller said Fariss was released on bond.

“While I may have made some mistakes in my life, these charges are false," Fariss said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press by an aide. "I look forward to clearing them in a court of law.”

Court records show an arraignment scheduled for March 17.

House Speaker Todd Gilbert said in a statement that he was aware of the charges against Fariss.

“I am certain that Virginia's legal system will ascertain all the facts and adjudicate the matter in a timely and just fashion," Gilbert said.

Fariss, of Campbell County, has served in the House since 2012. He represents the 59th District, which also includes Appomattox and Buckingham counties and parts of Albemarle and Nelson counties.

News of his arrest was first reported by Cardinal News.

Fariss has faced legal trouble before, according to court records and news accounts, including for a hit-and-run. That incident, to which Fariss pleaded guilty in 2016, damaged fencing, a highway sign and a mailbox, according to an article in the News & Advance.