Virginia Town's Leaders Charged in Wake of Embezzlement Scandal - NBC4 Washington

Julie Carey and the News4 team covering where you live

Virginia Town's Leaders Charged in Wake of Embezzlement Scandal

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    Warren Co. Officials Charged in Wake of Embezzlement Scandal

    A months-long investigation into government corruption in Warren County, Virginia, is widening. More than a dozen county officials are facing charges and accused of turning a blind eye to alleged corruption and embezzlement. News4's Julie Carey reports. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019)

    Fourteen current and former officials of Front Royal, Virginia, are charged with misdemeanor misfeasance and nonfeasance for their knowledge of and inaction over the local economic development agency's mismanagement of funds.

    News outlets report state police on Tuesday announced the indictments, which stem from an investigation into the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and its former executive director, Jennifer McDonald. A review of authority records uncovered wrongdoing and secret self-serving deals.

    McDonald was indicted in May on 28 felony embezzlement related charges. She had brokered a deal with a developer who promised projects funded with money that never materialized. The developer also promised a police academy overseen by the sheriff. The sheriff wasn't charged in the scheme, but was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound days after McDonald's arrest.

    All five county supervisors, the school superintendent, the county administrator, the county attorney and six current and former Economic Development Authority leaders face a new round of charges relating to failing to act when mismanagement came to light. Three of them were photographed Tuesday morning walking into a jail.

    Members of a concerned citizens group, the Warren County Coalition, say they have been pressing county leaders for months to examine government corruption that's allegedly led to millions of dollars in missing and misspent money.

    Melanie Salins and Fern Vazquez say elected leaders brushed them off time and again. They say the new charges are the latest step in their effort to hold public officials accountable. 

    "We all knew something illegal was going on," said Salins. "I was shocked to have our entire Board of Supervisors arrested. I mean, that's never a good thing. But at the same time, I felt like, wow, something is finally being done."

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