CULPEPER, Va. – The Virginia State Police announced that fourteen people have been indicted on charges related to an ongoing investigation involving the Front Royal – Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA). On Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, a Warren County Special Grand Jury handed up 42 misdemeanor counts against 14 individuals.
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The Grand Jury charged each of the following with two counts of misfeasance and one count of nonfeasance (Virginia Code Section 1-200) based on the individuals’ knowledge of and inaction of the EDA’s mismanagement of funds.
Mark A. Baker, 53, of Front Royal, Va.
William M. Biggs, 77, of Front Royal, Va.
Alexander G. Blanton, 72, of Front Royal, Va.
Warren County Supervisor Tony F. Carter, 59, of Linden, Va.
Mr. Carter was born in Front Royal and has lived in Warren County his entire life. He graduated from Warren County High School before attending Lynchburg College where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He is currently employed by Stoneburner-Carter Insurance Agency in Front Royal.
He served on the Front Royal Town Council as Vice Mayor from July 1994 until December 2001. He was first elected to the Warren County Board of Supervisors in January 2002, previously served as Chairman of the Board 2004 and 2005, and was once again elected to the position of Chairman for the 2018 session.
Luke G. Drescher, 59, of Middletown, Va.
Bruce N. Drummond, 68, of Linden, Va.
Warren County Supervisor Archie A. Fox, 78, of Strasburg, Va.
Archie Fox, Supervisor for the Fork District, was born in Warren County on Skyline Drive and has resided in the area his entire life. He was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2005.
In his earlier years, Mr. Fox worked for the Town of Front Royal as a lineman. He has owned and operated several businesses in Front Royal since 1972 and is the current owner and manager of Fox Mechanical Company, Inc., a well drilling business.
When asked about what his goals are for the Board of Supervisors he stated that he wanted the Board to serve the people of Front Royal and Warren County by helping to keep a balanced budget and moderate capital improvement.
Mr. Fox resides in the Fork District with his wife of 51 years and has three children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
Linda P. Glavis, 75, of Front Royal, Va. Linda Glavis, Supervisor for the South River District, was born and raised in Warren County and has resided in the South River District for the majority of her life. She received her BS in Business Administration from Marywood College in Scranton, PA and took graduate-level courses at National Judicial College in Reno, NV. Mrs. Glavis, who retired in 1996, worked a combined twenty years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the Director of the Warren and Rappahannock County offices (now known as Farm Service Agency), and an additional six years with the USDA in Washington, D.C. as a Hearing Officer, Review Officer, and Branch Chief of the National Appeals Division.
Ronald L. Llewellyn, 66, of Front Royal, Va.
Warren County Supervisor Daniel J. Murray Jr., 72, of Middletown, Va. Dan Murray, Past Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and Supervisor for the North River District, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He and his wife located to Warren County in 2005, when his employer, Interbake opened a facility here. He worked at Interbake as its Plant Engineer until 2012, when he retired. Mr. Murray was elected to the Warren County Board of Supervisors in 2011 and began his term on January 1, 2012. He was appointed Chairman of the Board in 2014 and held the position until January 6, 2015. He is Past Chair of the Trustees of Elks Lodge and is currently one of five Trustees for the Lodge. He has served for five years on the Executive Committee of the Front Royal American Legion Cooks Post 53.
Thomas E. Patteson III, 73, of Front Royal, Va.
Warren County Supervisor Thomas H. Sayre, 54, of Front Royal, Va.
Tom Sayre, Supervisor for the Shenandoah District, was born and raised in Raleigh County, WV. He and his family have lived in Front Royal for over 21 years. He was elected to the Front Royal town council on May 2, 2006. He was re-elected to the town council on May 5, 2010. He was elected to the Warren County Board of Supervisors on November 3, 2015, in a three-way race garnering over 50% of the vote. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from West Virginia University, graduating in May 1985. He graduated with a Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University in May 1988 where he advanced to the semi-finals in the Advanced Appellate Advocacy of the Celebrezze Moot Court Competition. Tom Sayre has been a lawyer for 30 years and he has a part-time law office practice found at sayrelawoffice.com and located at 835 Shenandoah Shores Road in Front Royal. He handles civil and criminal matters. He is admitted to practice before the Virginia Supreme Court, the Virginia Court of Appeals, the 4th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, the Western and Eastern Federal District Courts, and all of the Courts in Virginia. Mr. Sayre is currently working as the Human Resource Manager at Seton School, the largest Catholic homeschool organization in the world. Mr. Sayre is a former West Virginia Assistant Attorney General – serving in the Public Protection Division and also represented the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Further, he is a former Staff Attorney with the West Virginia Public Service Commission – regulated utilities.
Former Warren County-EDA Attorney Daniel N. Whitten, 36, of Front Royal, Va.
The Board of Supervisors appointed Daniel (Dan) N. Whitten as County Attorney on September 6, 2016. Dan joined Warren County in February 2010 as an Assistant County Attorney. He received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from the William & Mary School of Law. Dan has working experience in the Richmond City Attorney’s Office, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and private practice experience. Dan serves as the Vice President of the Warren County Bar Association and is a member of the Local Government Attorney’s Ethics Committee. Dan grew up in a rural farm environment in Albemarle County, and has a love of the outdoors. He enjoys lots of hiking, biking, and family time with his wife and three children in our surrounding parks and mountains.
Warren County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley, 50, of Front Royal, Va.
Public Money = the playground of the Good Old Boys and Elitists
Board Of Supervisors Reacts To EDA Allegations
County Board Chairman Dan Murray: “On behalf of the Board of Supervisors and County staff, I wanted to express our thoughts on the allegations that have been made public regarding the operations of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority and its former Executive Director…”
First, let me say that we are all shocked at the breadth of the allegations. Every year the EDA has a professional audit performed by a CPA to provide a level of comfort to the EDA Board of Directors, the Board of Supervisors, the Town Council, and the citizens of Warren County that the financial operations of the Authority are handled appropriately. We have relied on those audits to ensure that the EDA was, in fact, using taxpayer dollars for the purposes intended.
The EDA, through its Board and staff, provides a vital mission to our community by working to expand investment and creating jobs. Since the mid-1990s, the EDA has worked to create over 2,500 jobs and $500 million in investments in the Route 340/522 corridor. This activity allowed Front Royal-Warren County to recover from the loss of its largest taxpayer and employer, Avtex, which was shuttered in 1989. This effort took the hard work of many individuals and the financial support of the community.
We know over the past few years that citizens have raised issues to the Board of Supervisors and staff. Please know that while citizens may not have seen any visible or public response to those concerns, the issues were certainly noted and looked into. When additional information was brought forward, including the concerns raised by the Town relative to the debt service payments, this ultimately led to the Board’s encouragement and financial support for the County Attorney’s hiring of a forensic auditor to perform a thorough and complete review of the EDA finances for the past 13 years.
At the time, the Board of Supervisors was not sure if the issues were simply accounting errors or something far more concerning. The audit left open the potential to continue to dive deeper if and when any such issues were identified, and as we now know, the issues do indeed run much deeper and appear to show a long period of misuse of funds that hurt the reputation of the EDA, the Town of Front Royal, and Warren County. As problems were identified by the forensic auditors, the County also assisted the EDA Board of Directors by retaining the law firm of Sands Anderson to help identify legal issues and pursue appropriate methods for the recovery of identified funds.
We know that expending funds to hire these two firms has drawn the ire of citizens; however, the Board of Supervisors found it necessary to bring in outside help to ensure that any and every issue has been identified and investigated thoroughly. The expenditure of these funds has caused great anxiety for the Board, but it was necessary to perform a thorough analysis and identify appropriate actions to ensure that we begin restoring the public’s trust.
The Board of Supervisors has faith that the current EDA Board of Directors, the forensic auditor, and Sands Anderson (legal counsel) will get to the bottom of these issues, make sure that all of those responsible are held accountable, and make every effort to recover the money that has been embezzled. The issues appear to be systemic in the manner in which the EDA has operated. The reality is that the scope of the EDA’s operations have changed considerably in the past two decades, however, the processes and procedures for financial management did not. This ultimately led to the ability for the misuse of funds to occur. The Board is committed to working with the consultants and the EDA Board to put safeguards and policies in place to ensure that something like this will never have a chance to occur again in the future in our community.
Restoration of the public’s trust and confidence is as important to the Board of Supervisors as recovering the public funds that have been taken from our community and holding those responsible accountable for their actions. To that end, at its regular meeting on March 22, 2019, the EDA Board of Directors adopted a resolution to request the County to serve as the fiscal agent for the EDA; this will require that all financial transactions be handled by the County and its Treasurer and will provide additional layers of oversight and protection. This is just the first step in a long recovery process.
The EDA Board, like many others, were apparently misled by the former Executive Director. They did ask questions and were given plausible explanations at the time, but unfortunately, they were unaware of the extent and magnitude of the scheme.
Due to the ongoing nature of the continuing investigation, the Board will have no further comment on the matter until it is concluded.
The charges stem from an investigation the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office initiated in August 2018 related to the business practices of the EDA. The investigation was at the request of the Front Royal Police Department.
Since May 2019, multi-jurisdictional grand juries have handed up a total of 28 felony indictments against Jennifer R. McDonald, 42, of Front Royal, Va. McDonald is a former EDA employee and has been charged with:
- six felony counts of embezzlement of more than/equal to $500,
- six felony counts of embezzlement of more than/equal to $200,
- eight felony counts of obtaining money by false pretense of more than/equal to $200,
- two felony counts of obtaining money by false pretense of more than/equal to $500,
- and five felony counts of conducting an unlawful financial transaction. McDonald was released on bond in July.
Thirteen of the individuals indicted Friday turned themselves into state police Tuesday (Sept. 24) and went before the magistrate who released each one on a personal recognizance bond. Whitten will meet with the magistrate and state police Wednesday (Sept. 25).