FRONT ROYAL - The commonwealth is seeking to drop the criminal charges levied against Donald Poe by the special grand jury investigating the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, according to special prosecutor Michael Parker.
Poe has been charged on felony counts of obtaining money by false pretenses, money laundering and perjury. The charges relate to his company Earth Right Energy’s dealings with the EDA.
In addition to the criminal charges, Poe and the company are defendants in the EDA’s $21.3 million lawsuit that alleges a series of financial schemes during former Executive Director Jennifer McDonald’s tenure.
Parker stated in an email that with Poe’s trial “rapidly approaching” this month he “had to take appropriate action.” That action, he stated, was to file a motion to drop the charges without prejudice, meaning the commonwealth could prosecute the same charges in the future.
Parker, who was recently appointed special prosecutor for the case, added that “unfortunately, I am not fully caught up with the ongoing special grand jury investigation, thus I do not have a thorough grasp of the evidence that might pertain to Mr. Poe’s charges.”
Parker stated that the "decision was not made lightly" and “it would be unethical to attempt a prosecution under these circumstances.”
“As the gatekeeper of criminal charges, it is my responsibility to determine whether to prosecute and how to prosecute. Making those decisions requires a thorough grasp of the evidence supporting any allegation,” he stated.
The motion is set to go before Circuit Court Judge Bruce D. Albertson at 1 p.m. Friday.
Others criminally charged by the special grand jury include McDonald, her husband Samuel North, former EDA Administrative Assistant Michelle Henry and former B&G Goods store owner William Lambert.