Local economic development authorities in Virginia disburse large sums of money in their efforts to spark local development. According to recent reports, the former director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority was recently arrested and charged with several fraud-related crimes in connection with her former duties.
A grand jury in Warren County has been looking into allegations of malfeasance and fraud in the EDA, and town and county schools. The grand jury issued an indictment against the former EDA director, and she was taken into custody a short time later by the Virginia State Police. She is currently being held in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.
The case was initiated when the Front Royal vice mayor asked the town’s finance director to review the town’s fund balances. The director made the requested reviews, and he found several discrepancies indicating that the EPA owes the town $291,000 from overpayments of interest and other items of debt service. Virginia state police have been investigating the case since April of 2019. Shortly after the investigation began, the FBI and state police were observed removing boxes of documents from the EDA’s offices. When documents were unsealed, police allege that they revealed that the EDA director had lost $753,207 gambling between 2014 and 2018. In a civil lawsuit against its former director, the EDA alleged that the ex-director and two local firms misappropriated the proceeds of a $10 million loan for their own benefit. This lawsuit also alleges that the former director diverted thousands of dollars to enable her to purchase land from two of her relatives.
The former EDA director faces serious criminal charges in this case. Even though she is alleged to have admitted guilt in part of the case, she is deemed innocent unless and until she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable a doubt.