For 14 years, the former mayor of Fairfax, Virginia, lived a double life as a methamphetamine addict – until he got caught in August.
Friday, Scott Silverthorne walked out of prison after serving three months for drug distribution. He was sentenced to five years with all but three months suspended and was released on time served. He had been in prison since March, when he pleaded guilty.
"A good 14 years or so I have been using drugs ... but I was meticulous, I was careful until eventually I got caught,” he said. “But the reality was that I never let it interfere with my city duties."
In August, police caught him in a sting outside a Tysons hotel. He handed over meth to two undercover cops.
“I handed it to them, and they held it up, and I thought, something’s not right,” he said. “And then within a literal split second, they both jumped out of the car, and two or three SUVs descended on the car that I was sitting in.”
Silverthorne connected with them through a gay dating website. He said they enticed him to bring less than a gram of meth for the meeting, to which he agreed.
“I said from the very beginning, I want to accept responsibility for what I did, but I also want to make sure people know what I didn’t do,” he said.
A three-term mayor, he resigned after his arrest.
Friday he said his arrest was a life-saving wake-up call.
“I used that term, a double life, and a couple people, when I spoke outside the courthouse the other day, said to me, ‘Why are you using that term?’ Let me just say because, I don’t think people really knew the real Scott Silverthorne,” he said.
The story got national attention, with Silverthorne becoming known as the mayor caught in a meth-for-group-sex scandal.
He wanted to speak to reporters, his community, but his attorney advised him to keep quiet.
“I’ve known him since he was little boy, when his dad was mayor, quite frankly,” attorney Brian Drummond said. “He called and started to tell me what was going on, and I said, ‘Yeah, you’re going to need a lawyer.’”
To protect the case, Drummond didn’t want his client talking to the press, but he also feared isolation and humiliation would get to Silverthorne.
“My attorney called me numerous times worried that I might do something crazy,” he said.
Silverthorne said he never considered taking his own life.
Throughout the court proceedings, a team of supporters flocked by his side.
As mayor, he said he always tried to treat people well – no matter their job.
“I think it’s karma. I think it came back to me. I was surprised,” he said. “It’s really easy for people to desert people, it’s easy, and I had a few, there’s no question, but very few. Now, I’m not naive. I know if I screw up again, they won’t be there for me, so I have to be careful. But I also know that people are rooting for me.”
In jail, Silverthorne received hundreds of letters of support. At sentencing Friday, the judge made Silverthorne turn and look at his supporters to acknowledge what more he could lose if it happens again.
As for a political comeback, Silverthorne said, “Let me put it this way: I learned a long time ago never say never, and there’ve been plenty of politicians who’ve done what I’ve done or something similar and have come back. I have spent my entire adult life working for the citizens of Fairfax City. I’m ready to move on.”