By Alex Bridges
Middletown's former treasurer says she blew the whistle that prompted a police probe into possible embezzlement of town money.
Stacey Harrison spoke to the Northern Virginia Daily on Thursday and issued a statement in response to an article about the town's efforts to replace her. In the emailed statement and on the phone, Harrison said she contacted police after finding inconsistencies in the town's financial records that occurred before her hiring in October.
"I was contacted by the Virginia State Police after reporting funds that were missing from time periods prior to my employment," Harrison said. "I have fully cooperated and I am not a suspect."
Shortly after police confirmed their investigation into possible embezzlement of town funds, council voted at a meeting Jan. 13 to fire Harrison. Council met three days later to seek legal advice from Town Attorney J. David Griffin, and the closed session lasted nearly two hours. The subject of the discussion has not been disclosed.
"There really isn't a lot that I can comment on right now," Harrison said by phone. "All I can say about the time period is that the funds were missing prior to my employment."
The former treasurer said she couldn't comment on whether or not going to the police had anything to do with her firing. Harrison said she couldn't comment on what specific inconsistencies she found in the town's financial records because of the ongoing investigation. She referred questions to state police. Nor would Harrison comment on whether she spoke to Town Council about her findings.
The article also mentioned that former mayor Marshall "Mark" Brown had given a list of questions to council members at the special meeting asking about Harrison's employment. The Daily did not publish Brown's questions.
"I have never worked with Mark Brown, I have never met him in any capacity, nor did I report to him as Treasurer," Harrison states.
Town Council hired Harrison in October to replace Sharon Fadely, who left the treasurer's post to take a similar job in Mount Jackson. Harrison disputes her hiring date. Town Clerk Becky Layman said council voted at an Oct. 22 meeting to hire Harrison. However, Harrison said council hired her Oct. 4, possibly during a special meeting.
Harrison had worked as a branch manager for Union First Market Bank in Winchester prior to taking the job in Middletown. Harrison said her experience played a role in getting the job.
"Middletown has had a history of financial and legal issues over the years and this information was discussed throughout my hiring process," Harrison states.
"I felt confident in my ability to help the Town by utilizing my financial and banking background in order to 'clean up' the financial records and provide accurate financial reporting," Harrison adds in the statement.
Harrison notes that she worked as Middletown's treasurer for less than 90 days before council fired her.
"I was fully committed to these duties per my job description, obligation to the residents of Middletown, and as requested by the Council," Harrison continues. "I kept the Mayor, Town Council, and Town Attorney in close communication regarding any and all updates regarding the inconsistencies of Town records. I understand this is the early stage of the investigation and I plan to continue to cooperate."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org