CHRISTIANSBURG — An employee of the Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk’s office is charged with a misdemeanor for possession of a semi-automatic handgun inside the courthouse.
Paul Matthew Biederman, 44, faces that charge following the execution of a summons on Monday, according to an arrest warrant.
State law prohibits the general public and non-law enforcement employees from bringing firearms into courthouses. Virginia localities can also keep their non-police employees from bringing weapons into municipal buildings.
Biederman’s charge stems from a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office investigation that involved interviews with several co-workers who each provided matching accounts of him temporarily bringing a firearm into the courthouse — where the clerk’s office is located — in early August, according to court documents.
A search warrant issued on Biederman and his 2013 Ford sedan led to the seizure of a black Ruger semi-automatic handgun.
“Our office will fully cooperate with the Sheriff’s investigation into any potential criminal matters and will always continue to do so,” Circuit Court Clerk Erica Conner wrote in an email to The Roanoke Times.
Conner, citing personnel matters, declined to comment on Biederman’s job status.
Attempts to reach Biederman Tuesday and Wednesday were unsuccessful. His name was absent from the clerk of the circuit court’s current online staff list as of Wednesday.
Biederman was one of the few employees Conner kept on board during a controversial overhaul of her staff in early 2016.
Conner, whose last name was Williams at the time, let go of four clerks following her November 2015 reelection as a Democrat. A court clerk supervisor declined a reappointment offer from Conner and decided at the time to take a job under the then newly elected Republican Sheriff Hank Partin.
Biederman at the time was promoted from deputy clerk to the court clerk supervisor position.
Regarding the recent investigation, three female employees on Sept. 12 told a sheriff’s office investigator that Biederman in August had shown each of them a firearm following a discussion among some of them about buying a gun, according to search warrant documents.
“During those interviews, it was disclosed that sometime within the first week to week and half in August, two female employees were discussing purchasing a firearm,” according to a summary attached to a search warrant affidavit. “Lt. Light spoke with both of those female employees. They stated that during that conversation, one of them mentioned a firearm that had recently passed through evidence at the clerk’s office as being too heavy of a handgun.”
The two female employees each said Biederman, who was present during the conversation, left the office and came back in with a firearm to show them, according to the summary. One of the employees described the gun as a small, black, semi-automatic pistol with a laser sight, the court document says.
“After Biederman showed those two employees the firearm, he tried to show it to a third female employee, who voiced displeasure at having it near her,” reads the summary. “Biederman then exited the office, supposedly returning to where he’d obtained it.”
The investigator spoke with the third female employee, who confirmed being shown the firearm and her displeasure at the gun’s presence, according to the summary.
The investigator also spoke with another male employee who had seen the gun on another date, according to the summary.
“The male employee wasn’t present when Biederman allegedly brought the firearm into work, but Biederman had showed the employee the firearm in the parking garage on a separate date,” according to the summary. “Biederman had the firearm in his car on that date.”