Chris Geldart speaking during a press conference
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Chris Geldart

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D.C.’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice is in some hot water for allegedly handing out a little justice of his own in a gym parking lot.

NBC4’s Mark Segraves broke the news Wednesday that Chris Geldart is now on personal leave from his role in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s cabinet as an investigation into an incident in Arlington plays out. County police tell Loose Lips that Geldart stands accused of getting into a fight in which he “grabbed the victim by the throat” on Saturday afternoon. FOX5 identified the victim as Dustin Woodward, a trainer at the Gold’s Gym location in Ballston.

“Unfortunately, it sounds like something that happens to a lot of people — a dispute over something minor — and we hope it is resolved quickly,” Bowser’s spokespeople wrote in a statement to DCist.

The scuffle started over a parking dispute somewhere on the 3900 block of Wilson Boulevard, per an email from police spokesperson Ashley Savage. A video FOX5 obtained of the incident shows that it happened in the gym’s parking lot.

Savage writes that “[Geldart] and male victim became engaged in a verbal dispute after the door of [Geldart’s] parked vehicle struck the vehicle the victim was entering.” The alleged throat grabbing happened after the “dispute escalated,” and the other man involved in the fight reported the incident to police Monday. By Tuesday, they’d determined Geldart was the assailant and charged the 53-year-old with assault and battery.

“He was notified by telephone of the warrant, turned himself in and was released on a summons,” Savage writes. Details about a hearing on these charges were not immediately available on Arlington’s court website.

Geldart has been on the job overseeing D.C.’s public safety agencies (including the Metropolitan Police Department and Department of Corrections) since Bowser promoted him in January 2021. The former Marine previously ran D.C.’s Department of Public Works, where he faced all manner of questions about the city’s lackluster waste management services, as well as the city’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. He resigned there shortly after the Office of the Inspector General claimed he committed ethics violations.

Geldart has worked for the city in some capacity or another since 2012, per the District’s human resources records, and has clearly emerged as one of Bowser’s most trusted deputies in that time, given the wide portfolio of critical agencies he’s taken on over the years. An assault charge like this could seriously jeopardize his future with the District, depending on its resolution.

The charges against Geldart also raise another question about his residency status. Savage’s statement describes Geldart as being from Falls Church (and a quick search of Arlington court records show several minor traffic charges against Geldart where he has an address listed in the Virginia suburb, as does a submission to the D.C. Council from 2018). Curiously, a second resolution sent to the Council for Geldart’s appointment in 2019 lists his address as being somewhere in Ward 6. The discrepancy is hardly a problem for many D.C. employees but one that could be meaningful for Geldart.

D.C. law requires most senior officials to move to the District “within 180 days after the employee’s first day of work with the District government and to remain a resident of the District during their” employment. It specifies that this applies to several categories of employees including “agency heads” and employees hired after May 2019 that make more than $150,000 annually. Geldart pulls down about $225,000 per year, according to D.C. records.

The law does allow for “hardship waivers” and some other exceptions to these residency requirements, but it’s unclear whether Geldart’s received one, or if this Falls Church property is just a home he owns, but does not live in.