FRONT ROYAL – The Board of Supervisors at its 9 a.m. meeting today will discuss whether to use taxpayer money to fund legal expenses related the recent misdemeanor charges of misfeasance and nonfeasance levied against county officials.
The meeting comes one week after all five supervisors, County Administrator Doug Stanley, and former County Attorney Dan Whitten turned themselves into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional jail. Each was indicted on two misdemeanor counts of misfeasance and one misdemeanor count of nonfeasance by the special grand jury investigating financial wrongdoings within the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority.
The agenda for the meeting states that the supervisors will discuss: “Hiring of Legal Counsel for the Warren County Board of Supervisors, County Administrator, and Former County Attorney.”
Stanley said over the phone Monday that his and Whitten’s contracts state they have “indemnity.”
Oxford Dictionary defines indemnity as “security against or exemption from legal liability from one’s actions.”
Stanley said this means that unless he or Whitten voluntarily offer to pay their legal fees, it will be the county’s responsibility.
Stanley declined to say whether he would waive his indemnity. He added that he does not know how much it would cost to fund the legal expenses.
Regarding the supervisors’ and other county officials’ right to have the county fund legal expenses related to their governmental duty, Stanley pointed to Virginia Code section 15.2-1520.
The code states a locality may employ legal counsel “approved by the governing body to defend it...or any officer of the locality, or political subdivision employee” if legal proceedings are instituted against them related to “duties in serving the locality.”
Stanley also noted Virginia Code section 15.2-1521, which states the county may reimburse supervisors’ and its employees’ legal fees if they are found innocent of a crime related to serving the locality.
Supervisors Archie Fox said Monday over the phone that he has no comment regarding the matter at the moment and that he has been advised not to speak about it.
Supervisor Tony Carter said over the phone that he has no comment regarding the matter at the moment.
Chairman Dan Murray said “no comment.”
Supervisor Tom Sayre did not return a phone message regarding the matter while Supervisor Linda Glavis could not be reached.
During initial hearings last week, Stanley, Murray and Sayre were represented by attorneys. Whitten said he has hired an attorney. Fox, Glavis and Carter had not yet hired attorneys.
While consideration of legal fees is listed on Tuesday’s agenda, no related documentation was attached to in the agenda packet.
Stanley noted that today’s discussions will not include providing legal counsel to the six current and former EDA board members who were indicted on the same three misdemeanor charges.