JENNIFER MCDONALD

Jennifer McDonald

FRONT ROYAL — Lawyers for ITFederal and its developer Curt Tran have proclaimed his innocence in all transactions related to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority.

Tran and his company are two of the 14 defendants in the EDA’s $21.3 million civil lawsuit that alleges rampant financial improprieties during the decade-long tenure of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.

Tran has not been charged in a related criminal case while McDonald has been indicted on 28 felony counts related to financial improprieties during her employment at the EDA.

Tran’s counterclaim cites harm to his reputation and his businesses in stating that he is seeking $13.5 million in damages from the EDA.

The major claim against Tran is that he allegedly obtained a $10 million loan from the EDA under the false pretenses of providing jobs at a multi-building data center at the Avtex Superfund site.

That $10 million loan, according to Tran’s counterclaim, was granted in September 2015 “with no restrictions to its use.” Former EDA Attorney Dan Whitten previously confirmed this, saying Tran could buy a new car with the loan if he wanted.

The counterclaim filing also notes that although ITFederal has made every $42,160 monthly payment on the loan, the EDA recently filed a notice of default.

In addition to the $13.5 million in damages, the filing states that Tran is also seeking a declaratory judgment that the $10 million loan is legal and that ITFederal did not default.

The filing states that the “actual controversy” regarding the $10 million loan is that the EDA is “making antagonistic assertions and denials of ITFederal’s rights to the loan and improperly asserting that ITFederal is in default of the loan.”

Instead of being a co-conspirator, the counterclaim states that Tran was deceived and “materially misled” by the EDA through McDonald, which resulted in “substantial damage and reputation harm.”

The filing states that the counterclaim is meant “to rectify the wrongful and deceitful acts” perpetuated against Tran.

It adds that had Tran and his company “known the truth” about McDonald and the EDA, “they would not have initiated the construction process and incurred debt services on the $10 million loan nor accepted any grants from the Warren EDA.”

The counterclaim states that the EDA’s lawsuit is attempting to make Tran and ITFederal “scapegoats.”

It states this has resulted in the company’s inability to gain funds from the EB-5 visa program, which grants green cards to foreign investors. It adds that Tran’s companies are no longer able to compete for government contracts.

Some of the wrongful acts perpetrated against Tran, according to the counterclaim, include the forgery of his signature on real estate documents regarding deals in which he had no involvement. The counterclaim also states that his signature was forged to fuel the lie that he was an investor in a criminal justice training academy.

Had Tran known of these forgeries, the filing states that he would have ceased all business with the EDA.

In addition to the forgeries, the filing notes that Tran was further deceived when told soil at Avtex was “so clean you could eat off it.”

Fraudulent actions against Tran, according to the filing, have resulted in the EDA “frivolously suing this respectable businessman and his company” when they are in fact victims of the EDA’s and McDonald’s wrongdoing. It adds that those fraudulent actions against Tran “generated misleading and false media reports...related to the completely baseless claims the Warren EDA has asserted.”

– Contact Josh Gully at jgully@nvdaily.com