FRONT ROYAL – The man behind ITFederal and a proposed law-enforcement academy could have received financial help from the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority to pursue a third project, court documents reveal.
But County Attorney Dan Whitten claims former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald forged a June 24, 2016, resolution that allowed officers of the agency’s board to execute documents needed to buy property for no more than $2.5 million, in McDonald’s name or that of a limited liability company for a farming operation by Truc “Curt” Tran.
A $17.6 million lawsuit filed by attorneys with the Richmond firm Sands Anderson names McDonald as a defendant along with Donald F. Poe, Justin Appleton, Earth Right Energy Solar Commercial Limited Liability Company, Truc “Curt” Tran, the late Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, McDonald-owned entities DaBoyz LLC and MoveOn8 LLC, and Tran’s business ITFederal LLC. Cullen D. Seltzer represents the EDA and Jay M. McDannell, of the Reston firm Berliklaw LLC, represents McDonald and her two limited liability companies.
McDonald also stands charged with embezzling money from the EDA starting in 2014. She resigned last year after the EDA board hired a firm to study the agency’s financial records.
A hearing held last week in Warren County Circuit Court revealed more information about a commercial farming project proposed by Tran in 2016. The business plan for the proposed Front Royal Farms operation called for the business to process beef cattle and ship the product to Vietnam.
Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. presided over the hearing to consider the plaintiff’s request to freeze assets owned by the named defendants. Athey called such a hearing a “mini-trial” because parties put on evidence to support their arguments.
Whitten called the June 24, 2016, authorization resolution a “fraudulent” and fictitious document as he testified at the hearing.
The signatures of the EDA board members at the time appeared under the resolution. Ron Llewellyn made the motion, seconded by L. Greg Drescher, to adopt the motion.
Llewellyn and Drescher, who recently stepped down from the EDA board, testified that the signatures were theirs. However, both testified that they did not recall signing such a resolution, nor would they. The resolution states that the board passed it “at a closed meeting.”
Llewellyn, Drescher and other former board members testified that they do not pass resolutions or otherwise vote on any matter in closed session per the rules of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act that requires public bodies take such action in open meetings.
In addition, the word “CONFIDENTIAL” appears stamped at the bottom of the resolution. The former board members testified that they never voted on resolutions marked confidential.”