FRONT ROYAL – Jennifer McDonald, the former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority executive director who had been facing 28 felony counts, was arrested Monday on four additional felony charges related to alleged improper financial transactions.
She now stands charged on 32 felony counts of obtaining money by false pretenses, money laundering, fraud, and embezzlement.
The new charges include felony counts of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and obtaining money by false pretenses, according to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail’s website.
The website states that McDonald was booked into jail at 1:25 p.m. Monday and released at 2:26 p.m. on a $5,000 bond. Circuit Court Judge Bruce D. Albertson in July granted McDonald a $50,000 secured bond after she was in jail for about two months.
The charges are handed up from a special grand jury that has been impaneled since April to investigate potential financial improprieties within the EDA, town, county, schools and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
Others who have been charged by the special grand jury — former EDA Administrative Assistant Michelle Henry, businessman Donald Poe, former B&G Goods store owner and McDonald’s husband Samuel North — have also been released on bond.
McDonald’s next scheduled day in court is Nov. 21, according to the Warren County Circuit Court’s website.
In addition to the criminal charges, McDonald is also being sued by the EDA in a lawsuit that accuses her of being the main perpetrator in a scheme that allegedly resulted in the loss or misappropriation of $21.3 million. Alleged fraudulent activity outlined in the EDA’s lawsuit revolves around items including a workforce housing project, ITFederal, the Afton Inn and more.
In that case, she has been accused of giving away a piece of land that was frozen during court proceedings, which her lawyers claimed was an honest mistake. She is due in court Dec. 12 for a hearing regarding the contempt charge.
She is also one of the defendants being sued by the Town of Front Royal for alleged illicit activity that supposedly cost the town at least $15 million.
Earlier Monday, 14 county officials who were charged on misdemeanor counts of misfeasance and nonfeasance for an alleged lack of oversight over McDonald had the charges against them dropped.
McDonald resigned from the EDA Dec. 20 and admitted in a letter that she was responsible for over $2 million in monetary loses. According to a federal affidavit, the resignation came a day after she admitted to Virginia State Police that she had a gambling addiction. Court documents state that she lost over $700,000 gambling.