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Ex-CLEAN director charged in Shenandoah

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

The former director of a non-profit group based in Winchester stands accused of using the organization's credit card in Shenandoah County in June without permission from the agency.

Niles Underwood Comer appeared in Shenandoah County General District Court on Tuesday on two misdemeanor counts of embezzlement from CLEAN Inc. Judge Amy Tisinger scheduled a trial on the charges for Oct. 1.

Comer, 44, of 896 Christian Church Road, W.Va., remains free on bond set in Winchester General District Court where he stands accused of grand larceny of an automobile which city authorities say the defendant rented using a CLEAN credit card but failed to return the vehicle.

Documents in Shenandoah County General District Court state Comer used the agency's credit card to make two purchases -- $40.03 at the Woodstock Handy Mart on June 14, 2011, and then $25.04 at the Woodstock Shell Oil on June 29, 2011.

A criminal complaint filed by investigator S.W. Thompson, of the Woodstock Police Department, states CLEAN reported to Winchester police on Sept. 14, that Comer rented a car under the organization's name but didn't return the vehicle.

"[Comer] was found to be making several unauthorized expenditures with the credit card in violation of the agency's policy," the complaint states. "When asked by the board to provide it with receipts of the expenditures and a purpose for the purchases Comer would often tell them he had lost the receipts."

"When confronted through an email with a board member Comer admitted that he had used the credit card for personal use due to his personal ATM card being mistakenly cancelled and him not having any funds," the complaint states. "He asked for leniency from the business."

The complaint also notes that, pertaining to the June 14, 2011 alleged incident, Comer "was making a trip to Roanoke to attend his brother's funeral according to statements made by him to the board through email."

Comer never turned in a receipt for the June 29 purchase and "the board found no reason for the purchase to have been made for a legitimate work related event," according to the complaint.

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