In addition to filing a $17.6 million civil lawsuit against five people and several limited liability companies associated with those individuals, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority is also seeking to seize their assets.
The assets owned by former EDA executive director Jennifer McDonald, Donald Poe and his company Earth Right Energy Solar-Commercial LLC came under scrutiny Wednesday during a Circuit Court hearing.
Assets belonging to McDonald being sought include six vehicles worth $104,300, seven bank accounts worth $82,524 and seven properties worth $2,986,000. Assets belonging to Earth Right Energy Commercial-Solar and Poe included his $415,800 house and the company's bank account with an unknown amount of money.
After Warren County and EDA attorney Dan Whitten testified on Wednesday for more than three hours, the EDA's lawyers agreed to not seek those assets so long as Poe and the company bear their own legal costs incurred from defending against the lawsuit.
Cullen Seltzer, of the Sands Anderson law firm representing the EDA, declined to comment on how or why that agreement was reached.
During those three hours, Whitten was asked myriad questions by the defendants' lawyers and Judge Clifford L. Athey regarding the EDA's procurement policies, how checks and credit lines were supposed to be handled and lack of oversight by the EDA board.
The EDA seeks to seize McDonald properties that include land off of Happy Creek Road and Bucks Mountain Road, which Whitten said were purchased using EDA credit lines by the DaBoyz company, a firm that McDonald owned with the late Warren County sheriff Daniel McEathron.
Whitten said when money was wired from the EDA to DaBoyz, the authority's former bookkeeper Josie Rickard should have noticed. He added that the banks should have realized that the necessary signatures were not obtained from EDA board members and there was no resolution from the board supporting the transfers.
Poe and Earth Right Energy Solar-Commercial are being sued for receiving money for work on solar installations that was never performed. They are also being sued for work that was completed, such as the installation of solar panels at the EDA's office, despite the project not being approved by the board.
Whitten noted during testimony that McDonald told the EDA board of the installation of the solar equipment at the EDA office, but no approval was necessary because she said the work would be free.
Athey asked who would believe that a company would perform services for free, at which point Poe laughed as he observed the proceedings from the back of the courtroom.
Whitten responded that McDonald told the board the installation was free because the company would receive credits. He added that she ended up paying the company without EDA approval.
Jay McDannell, an attorney representing Jennifer McDonald, Daboyz and MoveOn8 LLC, then inquired whether McDonald said the work would "be free" or "not cost anything," and that although payments were made that money was scheduled to be reimbursed.
The hearing was continued on Thursday and is expected to wrap up today.