FRONT ROYAL — Lee E. Berlik and Jay M. McDannell — lawyers for BerlikLaw LLC — filed a motion in Warren County Circuit Court Wednesday requesting to withdraw as counsel for Jennifer McDonald, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s former executive director.
The law firm has represented McDonald and her LLCs, DaBoyz and MoveOn8, in three civil cases including the EDA’s $21.3 million lawsuit that alleges a series of embezzlements perpetrated during her tenure as executive director. One of many accusations outlined against McDonald in that lawsuit is that she allegedly used $10,000 of stolen money to pay BerlikLaw.
Around Nov. 2, court filings state that McDonald requested a $10,000 wire draw from First Bank and Trust with instructions “representing the $10,000 wire request was for the Afton Inn Attorney” and an attached invoice had wiring instructions “to send the payment to Berlik Law.”
The firm also represented McDonald in her civil defamation suit against Supervisor Tom Sayre, which was dropped, and in Sayre’s civil defamation against McDonald, which he won in September.
According to the Warren County General District Court’s website, the first hearing in Sayre’s defamation suit against McDonald was Nov. 16, two weeks after she paid the law firm with allegedly stolen money.
The lawsuit states that BerlikLaw “has refused to return the unauthorized payment from the Warren EDA and has taken the position that the money may have been permissibly paid to that firm.”
Berlik did not return a Wednesday phone message seeking comment, but in June he said: “I can say I don’t work for the Afton Inn.” He declined at the time to go into further detail regarding the $10,000.
Although the withdrawal motion was filed Wednesday, McDonald signed a form on July 3 consenting to the firm’s withdrawal that stated: “I have no objection to their withdrawing from their representation of me.”
The next hearing in the EDA’s civil case is scheduled for Thursday.