FRONT ROYAL - Seven new defendants and $4 million were added Friday to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s civil lawsuit that alleges a series of embezzlements and financial misappropriations during the tenure Jennifer McDonald, the authority’s former executive director.
Two of McDonald’s family members, her husband Samuel D. North and her mother Linda Hassenplug, were added to the lawsuit. Little Rugratz Daycare LLC, which is registered to Hassenplug, was another new defendant, along with former EDA administrative assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry and former B&G Goods store owner William Lambert. The two remaining new defendants are Jesse F. Poe, who the lawsuit states “is an associate in the financial affairs” of McDonald and Henry; and April D. Petty, who the lawsuit states is “an associate in the financial affairs” of McDonald.
The lawsuit is now seeking $21.3 million in damages, up from the $17.6 listed in the lawsuit’s original March filing.
Regarding Hassenplug, the lawsuit claims McDonald caused $73,317 in payments “to be made to discharge debt owed by Little Rugratz Daycare.”
The lawsuit states that McDonald directed $110,000 from the EDA to help purchase 1309 Robin Hood Lane for North.
The lawsuit states that Henry’s duties at the EDA included the “review and retention of” EDA records and she “breached her duty" by "either deliberately or negligently [failing] to detect and report the variety of frauds and schemes undertaken” by McDonald. It adds that Henry is believed to have “benefited from these acts.”
Regarding Lambert, the lawsuit states that McDonald diverted $345,000 from the EDA to purchase 400 Craig Drive in Stephens City, of which Lambert became the owner.
The lawsuit states Poe used $280,000 of EDA money to purchase a home at 118 Jutland Court in Stephens City. The lawsuit also alleges McDonald misappropriated funds to make a $125,000 mortgage payment on a 186 Howesville Road property owned by Petty.
Other new items alleged in the lawsuit include McDonald using stolen money to pay her civil lawyer Lee Berlik; commissions earned by McDonald's aunt and uncle's real estate company; and fraudulent activity regarding wetland credits.
Other defendants already named in the lawsuit were: McDonald and her LLCs DaBoyz and MoveOn8; ITFederal and its developer Curt Tran; and Earth Right Energy Solar-Commercial LLC and its owners Donald Poe and Justin Appleton.
McDonald, North, Poe, Henry and Lambert have all been criminally charged in matters related to the EDA's finances. All others listed in the lawsuit have not been criminally charged.