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Posted June 20, 2012 | comments 8 Comments

Prosecutor: Investigation into SAAA's finances 'closer to the end'

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

The Virginia State Police investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing in the management of finances at the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging is closer to the end than the beginning, the commonwealth's attorney for Warren County said Wednesday.

"We are narrowing the scope of the investigation into some areas that might lead to criminal charges," Brian Madden said.

Madden said he met with a state patrol investigator last week and talked for about half an hour about the status of the probe that originated last year with an investigation by the state Department for the Aging into SAAA's finances. The Department for the Aging turned the results of its investigation over to the state police

James A. Rothrock, the commissioner of the Department for the Aging, said at the time that state law requires agency heads to report cases of suspected fraud to the superintendent of state police and the auditor of public accounts.

State police have confirmed the SAAA has been under investigation but have had no other comment on what, if anything, they have found so far.

The agency and Helen Cockrell, its former executive director, have been locked in a lawsuit and counterclaim in Warren County Circuit Court over issues related to her dismissal in early September. A trial initially set for May 22 has been rescheduled for Oct. 30.

Cockrell has filed a suit asking for $20,000 in sick leave and accrued annual leave that she says went unpaid after her dismissal amid discoveries of financial irregularities at the agency during her tenure. Two other top managers at the agency were also dismissed in September.

The agency has been rocked with cash flow problems since then. Staff and managers have taken pay cuts, and the workforce decreased from 72 to slightly more than 50 as of late March.

The SAAA has filed a counter claim seeking $110,000 from Cockrell and accusing her of misconduct in spending the agency's money. The accusations include misusing agency credit card for personal expenses, embezzlement and fraud.

Madden said he asked the state patrol investigator to "verify certain issues before we decide, if we decide, to proceed criminally."

Madden declined to predict when the investigation will be completed but added: "It is closer to the end than the beginning.

"We want to make sure we have our i's dotted and our t's crossed before we proceed with anything," Madden said.

8 Comments | Leave a comment

    I'll be believe it when I see it (criminal charges).

    Even if Commonwealth Attorney Madden decides to file criminal charges, acquittal is practically a sure thing. We have some of the finest Republican judges money can buy.


    From what I have read, How can criminal charges not be filed? Fake invoices, money diverted into the former CEO's husband's business???

    How could this happen? Other senior staff members need to come clean and tell what they know.

      As I have stated before and then got blasted by the insiders of SAAA for providing the truth, she will get charged and then a plea deal will be done. The plea deal will state that no one shall talk about any of the incidents that happened at SAAA under her watch. SAAA has the people in place they want now and have silenced others.........this is all over except the paperwork............

    I sounds like you are the insider... What do you get out of this?

    Maybe the fact that Helen is a Democrat will appeal to "the Republican" judges.lol...Lets be patient a little longer...Maybe a deal will be made on the civil suit..But,the criminal suit may be another thing all together....We have to think that the seniors will get justice,and she will be tried,convicted,and sentenced.I would love to see the courtroom packed with seniors,let her see the faces of those she promised to advocate for,and then left the agency without funds to provide for them.I do not think she cares who she hurt,but would'nt it feel good just to hear the gavel go down on her....Promise you I will be there....How about you?

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