The $17 million civil lawsuit filed by the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority against nine defendants including its former executive director, the Warren County sheriff and the ITFederal developer, reads like a primer on how to almost get away with millions of dollars of public funds.

The lawsuit alleges that EDA funds were diverted for personal use. Statements from the EDA board and the Warren County Board of Supervisors held similar wording in their reactions to the lawsuit this week: “...we are all shocked at the breadth of the allegations.”

More shockwaves may reverberate in the months to come. On Wednesday, Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. signed an order granting Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden’s request on Tuesday for a special grand jury to investigate allegations made in the lawsuit that was filed on Monday.

That special grand jury, according to the order, will be looking at “misfeasance and malfeasance including the embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds by local public elected and appointed officials and/or their employees including but not limited to the Industrial Development Authority of the Town of Front Royal and Warren County, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the County of Warren, the Town of Front Royal and the Warren County Public Schools.”

Citizens selected for that special grand jury have a lot of work ahead of them as they sort through a tangled web of allegations that could touch many more people not yet revealed by the EDA audit. The public has not seen the results of the final report – the only information made public is what is in the EDA lawsuit.

Over time, our reporters could be writing about more people facing criminal charges – just look at the “breadth” of government entities covered in the order for the special grand jury – from town and county government to the school system!