FRONT ROYAL – Nearly a year after Supervisor Tom Sayre filed a civil defamation lawsuit against former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jennifer McDonald, the two litigants will be the final witnesses to testify in the case, under an earlier ruling by General District Court Judge Ian Williams.
Last month, 12 witnesses in the case testified in a nearly five-hour hearing in Warren County General District Court. After the testimony, Williams said there would be one more hearing during which only Sayre or McDonald may testify. Whether a ruling will be made after their testimony is unknown.
Sayre’s lawsuit stems from a June 15, 2017 incident in which a rock was thrown through the front door of McDonald’s home. A note containing directions on how to carry out the rock-throwing, which listed Sayre’s number at the end, was found in McDonald’s front yard during an investigation.
Sayre’s lawsuit claims that McDonald staged the rock-throwing and planted the note to frame him after he posed a series of questions regarding the EDA’s workforce housing project.
That workforce housing project, construction on which never began, is detailed in the EDA’s $17.6 million lawsuit against McDonald and others as one of the avenues she allegedly used to embezzle money from the authority.
In the months following the EDA’s filing of the civil suit, McDonald has been charged on 28 felony counts including embezzlement, obtaining money by false pretenses and money laundering.
The bulk of Sayre’s lawsuit centers around McDonald allegedly telling local reporter Roger Bianchini of the rock being thrown before it had occurred. That was also the basis for the Virginia State Police’s charging McDonald with filing a false police report, a charged that was dismissed in July.
McDonald also filed a civil defamation lawsuit against Sayre with claims that he falsely spread rumors that she staged the rock-throwing and told people of his involvement. Last month, however, McDonald requested that her suit against Sayre no longer proceed.