FRONT ROYAL – The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virginia State Police were at the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s offices Tuesday morning. Officers and officials were mum regarding the reason for the law enforcement presence.
This comes less than a week after a special grand jury was impaneled to investigate potential financial wrongdoings of the EDA, town, county, schools, Sheriff’s Office and any appointed or elected officials within those entities.
A Commonwealth’s Attorney Office news release stated that the office has been working with state police since August in investigating suspicious financial activities. The release added that state police learned new information regarding financial improprieties when the EDA filed a $17 million-plus lawsuit against former director Jennifer McDonald and nine other defendants for a slew of alleged embezzlement and fraudulent activities.
Corinne Geller, Virginia State Police public relations specialist, said Tuesday over the phone that FBI agents “are lead on whatever was going on” at the EDA office and she could not comment because “we were there assisting” the FBI.
Dee Rybiski, an FBI public relations affairs specialist, said over the phone that she can only confirm that FBI officers were at the EDA office. She added that while “you can assume” the FBI is investigating the EDA, she could not confirm it.
FBI and state police officers were seen exiting the EDA’s office with cardboard boxes around 2 p.m. Tuesday. McDonald’s office has been locked since her Dec. 20 resignation, and police on the scene declined to say whether the boxes were for documents inside her office.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Layton was present and declined to comment on why he was there or whether the situation was related to the recent impanelment of a special grand jury. Layton said he wished he could say more but could not comment because the matter is part of an investigation.
Neil Mathison, a supervisor special agent from the FBI’s Richmond office, declined to comment on why the FBI was at the EDA’s office. He did confirm that “I have people” inside of the EDA’s office. He said that the FBI arrived early Tuesday morning to the EDA’s office and would be gone sometime by the end of the workday.
He declined to say how long the FBI has been involved with anything regarding the EDA.
Lt. John A. Defilippi, the Virginia State Police special agent in charge, also declined to comment on why the state police were at the EDA’s office. He also confirmed that “I have people in there, too.”
John Anzivino, EDA interim executive director, also declined to comment.