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Charlottesville private equity boss charged with assault, strangulation after fight with girlfriend

A Charlottesville private equity firm manager has been arrested after a pair of late February altercations that allegedly injured his girlfriend.

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

"She said the forensic nurse advised that there were [broken] blood vessels and visible signs of injury to her windpipe," an Albemarle County police detective wrote in his criminal complaint.

Nathalie Grace Marcano told an investigator that she and Carver were arguing inside a vehicle when he tossed her phone out of the window and struck her face and pulled her hair while she scratched his face, according to the complaint. Things got even more heated when the two arrived at Carver’s Ivy-area residence, the complaint alleges.

"He admitted that he did push Nathalie to the ground and rip open her blouse while she was attempting to collect her belongings," the investigator wrote. "Carver grabbed her by the neck and choked her, making it difficult to breathe and speak."

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

According to a recent prospectus, Harren focuses on profitable firms grossing $20 million to $200 million. The document indicates that a Harren investment fund will typically take a controlling interest in an expanding firm, and then Harren principals will insert themselves into management to bolster both the top and the bottom lines.

"Harren’s approach centers on operational excellence and insightful strategic analysis, rather than financial engineering," according to that prospectus.

While some years are dry, Carver may earn up to $50 million in deal-laden years, according to his jail bail sheet.

"Mr. Carver is active with the University of Virginia, lecturing at both the undergraduate and graduate business schools," according to his Harren biography.

However, UVa spokeswoman Bethanie Glover told The Daily Progress that Carver is not currently employed at the university nor is he teaching any courses there.

After interviewing both the suspect and his alleged victim, police arrested Carver shortly after midnight on Feb. 22 on an assault and battery charge. An arrest warrant on a felony strangulation charge was issued four days later, but that arrest did not occur until six weeks after that, on April 8, at the Richmond International Airport.

In his Harren biography, Carver notes that he is an instrument-rated private pilot, assertions confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration. While Carver owns a property in Albemarle County, he has informed a local magistrate that his main residence is actually in Florida, and his FAA certification lists him with a Fort Lauderdale address.

The night of Feb. 22 began peacefully at Public Fish & Oyster, a popular Charlottesville seafood restaurant on West Main Street, Marcano testified in court. But that peace started to crumble after the couple walked to another restaurant down the street, Mexican eatery Continental Divide, she said. Marcano alleged that they each had a cocktail and shared a bottle of sparkling wine over dinner and that Carver continued with a margarita at Continental Divide and then sipped from an in-car wine tumbler.

The allegations about the tumultuous night were aired Tuesday in Albemarle County General District Court, where Marcano was seeking a protective order. While Carver’s lawyer challenged that request, Marcano’s lawyer introduced seven photographs illustrating she had sustained injuries the night of Feb. 22.

"I thought he was going to beat the crap out of me or kill me," Marcano testified.

The photographs showed wounds to Marcano’s neck, face, hand, wrist and mouth. Additionally, her lawyer submitted a photo of her blouse showing ripped-out buttons.

"He grabbed my blouse," Marcano testified. "He pushed me down."

On cross-examination, Marcano conceded that that she did not divulge her claim about getting choked when first interviewed by police.

"I was in complete shock," she testified. "I did share as much as I was processing."

Subsequent testing at UVa Medical Center, including a CT scan, showed visible injuries including windpipe damage.

"I tried to yell and scream, but I could not," Marcano testified.

Her allegation bolstered the strangulation charge, which is a Class 6 felony in Virginia and can carry a prison term as long as 5 years.

Tuesday’s hearing was solely to determine whether a judge should issue a protective order and not part of Carver’s criminal trial.

Marcano’s lawyer urged the judge to issue the order.

"The testimony of Ms. Marcano has not been contradicted," argued Rebekah Luttrell, a victim advocacy attorney for Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. "In fact, it has been corroborated. She is still in fear of him."

While Carver’s lawyer, André Hakes, called a niece of Marcano’s as a witness to share some details from what she knew of that evening, Hakes made no argument opposing a restraining order during the two-hour hearing.

"It’s appropriate for the court to issue a protective order," said Judge Matthew Quatrara, ordering Carver to cease contact and remain at least 250 feet away from Marcano for the next two years "without exception."

Local legal expert David Heilberg, who was in court for the judge’s ruling, said that while such a lengthy hearing isn’t typical for obtaining a protective order, it can provide the defense with substantial testimony that it may later try to impeach at trial. Moreover, he noted that Virginians targeted in a protective order may not possess any firearms.

"People don’t like to have their firearm rights suspended," Heilberg told The Daily Progress.

Briefly held without bail at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on the strangulation charge, Carver was released on a personal recognizance bond, according to court records. While he declined comment after Tuesday’s hearing, a spokesman emailed The Daily Progress afterward.

“We intend to vigorously litigate these allegations in court,” he said.

Carver is appealing the judge’s ruling on the protective order. He must return to court May 23 to address the criminal charges.


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