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Warren County supervisor sues EDA director

Jennifer McDonald

Tom Sayre, a member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Jennifer McDonald, the executive director for the Warren County Economic Development Association.

In the suit, Sayre accuses McDonald of planting his phone number at a crime scene at her house and telling a reporter for the Royal Examiner, an online news organization,  that she believed Sayre committed the crime.

McDonald declined to comment.

Sayre’s suit relates to two reported break-ins, one at the office of the Economic Development Association and one at McDonald’s house.

At the reported break-in at her house, McDonald called 911, stating that she heard a loud noise at her house while she was in her basement. When police arrived, they found a stone at her front door and a letter in her yard.

Tom Sayre

McDonald has since been charged with filing a false police report in that case. According to a criminal complaint from Special Agent Eric Deel of the Virginia State Police, McDonald called police hours after contacting another person.

“Based on Jennifer McDonald making statements about the event in detail prior to the actual 911 call, this special agent, with the Virginia State Police, is seeking a warrant for filing or making a false police report,” the complaint states.

Citing the arrest warrant, Sayre alleges that McDonald threw the stone and “created a note that she intentionally left in her front yard.”

“Upon information and belief, the note contained a list of crimes that [McDonald] wanted the police to believe were intended to be committed against her in the future,” the complaint states. “In addition, the note contained two phone numbers, one of which was [Sayre’s] number.”

In addition, Sayre claims that in the conversation McDonald had prior to calling 911, McDonald named Sayre and told Roger Bianchini, a reporter for the Royal Examiner, “that she believed [Sayre] was involved in the crime.”

The criminal complaint filed by the state police does not name the person McDonald contacted, describe any of the contents of the letter or state that McDonald threw the stone through her front window.

Sayre is seeking $25,000, the maximum amount of money that can be obtained outside of attorney’s fees during most civil general district court proceedings in Virginia.

In the suit, Sayre states that McDonald’s alleged comments and letter damaged his reputation.

“[Sayre] lost significant sleep, suffered acute anxiety, could not focus at work, sought counseling from his Priest, spent countless hours seeking to clear his name and repair damage to his reputation,” the suit states.

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