One day after he was indicted on five criminal charges for his involvement in a Sept. 8 fatal crash, Tony Steven Dane made his first court appearance on Tuesday.
He’ll be back in court tomorrow.
Dane was the driver of the food truck that struck and killed an Ashburn woman and seriously injured three of her family members. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, driving without an operator’s license (repeat offense), driving without insurance and failure to get the vehicle inspected. The involuntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Dane has also been served with a civil lawsuit seeking $10 million in compensatory damages.
Dane appeared in Circuit Court on Tuesday morning for arraignment and was taken into custody. A hearing to determine whether he would be eligible for release on bond was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. day. In court, prosecutors noted that Dane was already out on bond for alleged felonies committed in Las Vegas, NV, last summer. Court records show Dane was indicted last year for extortion, wiretapping, and other charges relating to his work as a political strategist.
According to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened around 4:50 p.m. Sept. 8 when Dane, the driver of a 2000 Thomas bus, which had been converted into the Dane’s Great American Hamburger food truck, was traveling east on Watson Road and ran the stop sign at the Evergreen Mills Road intersection. The bus hit a 2014 Audi station wagon traveling northbound on Evergreen Mills Road.
The driver of the Audi, 39-year-old Erin T. Kaplan, died at the scene. The passengers in the car, Kaplan’s three children and their grandmother, all were airlifted from the scene to Inova Fairfax Hospital.
The crash resulted in an outpouring of support for the Kaplan family, with a GoFundMe page raising more than $137,000 in donations. Also, county leaders have pressed for safety improvements on Evergreen Mills Road, including the recent installation of improved driver alert devices at the Watson Road intersection. County deputies also have increased speed patrols in the corridors in the weeks since the crash.
The charges resulted from evidence presented by county prosecutors during a closed grand jury session Monday morning. Because it was a direct indictment, there was no preliminary hearing in District Court and little additional information about the case has been made public.
According to information submitted in a warrant during the investigation, Dane told investigators the food truck’s brakes failed. Prior to the crash, the food truck narrowly missed hitting students who were getting off a school bus on Watson Road.
The civil lawsuit, filed Oct. 3 by Faran Kaplan on behalf of his wife’s estate, cites Dane’s lack of a driver’s license, lack of insurance and alleged knowledge of malfunctioning brakes in support of negligence allegations. In addition to $10 million in compensatory damages, the suit seeks $350,000 in punitive damages.
The Las Vegas indictment alleged that Dane was behind an effort in December 2014 and January 2015 to pressure a Nevada assemblyman to change his vote for speaker of the Republican-controlled Assembly. Dane allegedly used his robocalling business to wiretap phone conversations involving five Republican assemblymen and their constituents.
He is scheduled for a jury trial in Las Vegas on Jan. 29. He faces charges of extortion, knowingly offering a false or forged instrument to be filed with a public office, uttering a false document, perjury, and eight counts of wiretapping. In February 2015, Virginia police assisted Las Vegas police in searching his home in Front Royal in an extortion probe.