Charlottesville CEO Charged with Strangulation and Assault

Thomas Allen Carver, a 56-year-old resident of Albemarle County and founder of Harren Equity Partners based in Charlottesville, has been charged with strangulation, as well as assault and battery.

"She said the forensic nurse reported that she had [broken] blood vessels and visible signs of throat damage," wrote a detective with the Albemarle County Police in his criminal complaint.

According to the complaint, Natalie Grace Marcano told investigators that she and Carver were arguing in the car when he threw her phone out the window, hit her in the face, and pulled her hair, according to the complaint. The complaint also alleges that Marcano scratched Carver's face during the struggle. The situation reportedly escalated further when they both arrived at Carver's residence in the Ivy area.

A graduate of the University of Virginia, where he earned degrees from the McIntire School of Commerce and the Darden School of Business, Carver founded Harren in 2000.

According to a recent prospectus, Harren focuses on profitable firms with revenues ranging from $20 to $200 million. The document states that Harren's investment fund typically acquires a controlling stake in an expanding company and then Harren's executives step in to manage, supporting both revenue and profit.

Following the questioning of the suspect and his alleged victim, police arrested Carver shortly after midnight on February 22 on charges of assault and battery. An arrest warrant for strangulation was issued four days later, but the arrest did not occur until six weeks later, on April 8, at Richmond International Airport.

The night of February 22 began peacefully at the Public Fish & Oyster, a popular seafood restaurant in Charlottesville on West Main Street, Marcano testified in court. But this peace began to unravel after the couple went to another restaurant down the street, the Mexican eatery Continental Divide, she said. Marcano claimed that they each had a cocktail and shared a bottle of sparkling wine for dinner, and that Carver continued with a margarita at Continental Divide, then sipped wine from a car cup.

Allegations about the tumultuous night were voiced on Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court, where Marcano sought a protective order. While Carver's attorney contested the request, Marcano's attorney presented seven photos illustrating the injuries she sustained on the night of February 22.

"I thought he was going to knock out all my shit or kill me," Marcano testified.

"He grabbed my blouse," Marcano said. "He pushed me down." During cross-examination, Marcano admitted that she did not disclose her statement about being strangled during the initial police interview.

"I was in complete shock," she said. "I was just sharing what was being treated." Subsequent testing at the UVa Medical Center, including a CT scan, revealed visible injuries, including throat damage.

"I was trying to scream and yell, but I couldn't," Marcano testified. Her allegations supported the strangulation charge, which in Virginia is a Class 6 felony and can carry a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

The hearing on Tuesday was solely for the determination of whether the judge should issue a protective order, not as part of the criminal proceedings against Carver.

Marcano's attorney urged the judge to issue the order.

"Ms. Marcano's testimony was not rebutted," said Rebecca Lattrell, a victims' advocate attorney with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. "In fact, it was confirmed. She is still afraid of him."

While Carver's attorney, Andre Heikes, called Marcano's niece as a witness to share some details of what she knew about that evening, Heikes did not present any arguments against the protective order during the two-hour hearing.

Local legal expert David Heilberg, who attended the hearing regarding the judge's decision, said that while such a lengthy hearing is atypical for obtaining a protective order, it can provide substantial evidence for the defense to later attempt to impeach in court. Furthermore, he noted that Virginia residents subject to a protective order cannot carry firearms.

According to court records, Carver, briefly held without bond at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on the strangulation charge, was released on a personal recognizance bond. While he declined to comment after Tuesday's hearing, his representative subsequently emailed the Daily Progress.

"We intend to vigorously contest these charges in court," he said.

Carver is appealing the judge's decision regarding the protective order. He is scheduled to return to court on May 23 for the consideration of criminal charges.


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