FRONT ROYAL – Three hearings revolving around the alleged embezzlement at the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority will be held next week.
The proceedings kick off Monday when Jennifer McDonald, the authority’s former executive director, is due at 9 a.m. in Warren County Circuit Court.
McDonald, who has been indicted on 12 felony counts including charges of embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretenses, will either plead guilty or a trial date will be set.
The indictments are sealed and there is no detailed information available regarding what actions relate to the charges. The dates on the indictments, however, align with several alleged embezzlements outlined in a report by Cherry Bekaert, the firm hired to investigate the EDA’s past finances.
The dates listed on the indictments match dates listed in the report on which McDonald allegedly purchased land with diverted EDA funds; alleged embezzlements involving the former B&G Goods store; and alleged personal credit card payments using EDA funds.
McDonald was indicted May 24 on four felony counts of embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretenses. She was arrested the same day by Virginia State Police and has been held without bond since. On June 24, she was indicted on eight additional counts of embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretenses.
Also on June 24, Michelle “Missy” Henry, former EDA administrative assistant, was indicted on two felony counts of embezzlement. The dates on her indictments align with the alleged embezzlement at the B&G Goods store. She was denied bond by Judge Thomas Horne, who is retired and was substituting for Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr.
Horne opted to leave the decision whether to grant Henry bond to Athey, who has overseen EDA-related proceedings.
Henry is slated to appear at 9 a.m. Friday in circuit court with Athey as the presiding judge.
The indictments against McDonald and Henry were handed up by a special grand jury that was formed to investigate potential misappropriations within the EDA, town, county, schools and the Sheriff’s Office.
Shortly before that special grand jury was formed, the EDA filed a $17.6 million civil lawsuit against McDonald and eight other defendants alleging a series of embezzlements and misappropriations.
McDonald and Henry – who was not one of the defendants in the civil suit – remain the only two individuals criminally charged.
Several motions by both the EDA’s lawyer and defendants’ lawyers will be heard at 12:31 p.m. Wednesday, according to the circuit court’s website.
Also in court next week:
• Robert Binnix, the former treasurer of the Front Royal Little League, will appear in Warren County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. Monday. He stands charged on one felony count of embezzlement from the Little League.
• Former Mayor Hollis Tharpe, who stands charged on a misdemeanor count of prostitution solicitation, has a motions hearing at 2:30 p.m. Monday in Warren County Circuit Court.