FRONT ROYAL — Jennifer McDonald, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s former executive director, was indicted Monday on two additional counts of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretenses and embezzlement.
McDonald now stands charged on 14 felony indictments of embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretenses stemming from her time as the authority’s director, a position she held from 2008 through her December resignation.
The indictments, handed up by a special grand jury — empaneled to investigate potential misuse of funds in the EDA, town, county, schools, and Sheriff’s Office — included four charges against McDonald in May, eight in June and two on Monday.
McDonald was arrested May 24 and has been held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. The arrest came two months after the EDA filed a $17.6 million embezzlement and misappropriation lawsuit against her and eight other defendants.
All of the indictments against McDonald are sealed and only list charges and the date on which alleged offenses occurred. The newest indictments state that between on or about Sept. 1 and Sept. 22, 2018, McDonald conspired with another to obtain money by false pretenses and that between on or about Sept. 18 and Sept. 20, 2018, McDonald embezzled over $500 from the EDA.
McDonald appeared briefly in court Tuesday morning and a hearing was set for 8:30 a.m. July 31 regarding a motion filed by Peter Greenspun, a well-known Washington, DC lawyer who is representing McDonald in the case.
In that motion, which was filed in Warren County Circuit Court, Greenspun argues that the prosecution has not provided enough information regarding the charges leveled against McDonald.
At a May 28 bond hearing, Greenspun states in the motion that “the Commonwealth did not make any factual proffer regarding the evidence underlying” the initial four indictments but that the prosecution subsequently disclosed the charges relate to payments McDonald allegedly made on her personal credit cards using EDA money.
“Beyond that, only a limited amount of discovery has been provided,” Greenspun states.
He notes that the eight June indictments appear to relate to personal real estate transactions McDonald allegedly made using EDA money.
Greenspun said in court Tuesday that the special grand jury has decided to operate in a “drip, drip, drip fashion” by handing out indictments periodically instead of waiting to the end of its proceedings and there has been “so much delay in getting anything of substance.”
“Within the last few days, materials have been provided that are essentially real estate settlement files, but little more and nothing of substance to the investigation and allegation,” Greenspun states in the motion.
He adds that the prosecution should provide specific dates, times and locations at which alleged offenses occurred; “specific conduct” relating to the charges; and “specific evidence” that the commonwealth is using to level the charges.
Greenspun states that the prosecution has “made a broad-based assault against” McDonald and the additional information is necessary for her to prepare a defense and respond to each allegation.
Approached by the media after the hearing, Greenspun indicated that McDonald does not intend to plead guilty.
“I don’t talk to the press about these things but I don’t want you guys to be misled. This is going to trial,” he added.
Greenspun said during the hearing that while one set of indictments seems straight forward, the other two sets of indictments may require two-week trials.