FRONT ROYAL – Jennifer McDonald, who has worked as the Warren County-Front Royal Economic Development Authority’s executive director for a decade, has been charged by the Virginia State Police with a misdemeanor count of filing a false police report.
A criminal complaint by Special Agent Eric Deel states that the string of events leading to a warrant being issued for McDonald began during a Front Royal Police Department investigation regarding a May 2017 break-in at the EDA’s Kendrick Lane office. During that investigation, the complaint states that an “interview was conducted” by Front Royal police on June 16, but it does not say who was interviewed.
The complaint states McDonald revealed information to the unidentified individual at about 3 p.m. on June 15 about an incident at her 158 Faith Way home. She described the incident as a stone being thrown through her front door and a note being left behind that listed phone numbers.
The complaint states that McDonald called the Warren County 911 Center on June 15 at about 9 p.m., about five hours after she detailed the event to the unknown person. During the 911 call, the complaint states that McDonald said “a loud noise happened” while she was in the basement. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident and found that a large landscape stone was thrown into her front door. A note was also discovered in the yard with information “consistent with the statements” she made hours before the 911 call.
Virginia’s statute of limitations for misdemeanors is one year, McDonald was charged on Thursday, June 14, and the alleged false police report was made on June 15, 2017.
Deel states in the complaint that he sought an arrest warrant for McDonald because she made detailed statements about the incident prior to the 911 call. Sheriff’s Office investigator Phillip Henry declined to comment on why the matter was handled by state police and said that question should be directed to the state police. Sgt. F.L. “Les” Tyler, state police public information officer, said Friday he did not know details of the case but would attempt to learn more by Monday.
McDonald previously told the Northern Virginia Daily that there were several incidents that occurred at her house, but she did not elaborate. Those incidents, she said, were of a personal nature and left her concerned for her safety. She added that she opted to hire a private investigator to look into the matter.
She denied commenting on the matter on Friday.
Greg Drescher, EDA chairman, said while anyone being charged is a concern, he fully expects McDonald to be exonerated. He added that he talked to her Thursday morning, and she told him the accusation is not true.
Ron Llewellyn, an EDA board member, said he has full confidence in McDonald and described her as “a person of high integrity.” He said he is a good judge of character and has never “caught her expressing a falsehood” and that he can’t imagine her being convicted of the misdemeanor.
“I find it almost impossible to believe that she would have given a false statement to police,” he said.
Llewellyn added that he believes a small group of citizens wants McDonald removed from her position and this is an attempt to slander her name. He said there is no reason now for the board to discipline her, but he would have to reexamine that if she is found guilty.
Drescher said he would like to talk with the board’s legal advisor “on what we’re required to do.” Then, he said, the board will discuss the matter and determine the best path moving forward.
“Any decision that I make, I want it to be the best decision, so I am going to wait,” Drescher said.
He added concern over how the incident will be perceived by prospective businesses or EDA clients and “anytime there is negative news, it impacts what people think about the community.” He noted “unfortunately for Jennifer, it puts her in a spotlight that she doesn’t necessarily deserve or need to be in if it comes out she that she didn’t do anything wrong, which I fully expect that will be the case.”
Drescher said he does not know every detail of the incident, but said he could not fathom why someone would make a false police report about a rock being thrown through her door. He added that if someone did make such a false report, he could not imagine why she would do so.
According to online court documents, McDonald has been released on a summons and is due to appear at 11 a.m. June 27 in Warren County General District Court