Following another week of Economic Development Authority Special Grand Jury interviews former EDA Executive Director Jennifer Rae McDonald, her husband, Samuel “Sammy” David North and Donald Poe were booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Jail (RSW Jail) in the late afternoon and early evening hours of Friday, August 23.
According to the RSW Jail website, North was booked into the facility at 5:25 p.m. on two felony counts of Obtaining Money by False Pretenses and one felony count of Money Laundering – “Financial Transaction, proceeds from known felony activity”.
Jail records showed McDonald being booked at 6:22 p.m. The jail website list of charges against her remained at 14. So it was not immediately clear if she was facing additional charges or had been booked on a bond violation. A call to the jail booking department indicated that online buffering of information on McDonald could indicate she was still being processed into the jail. The counts against McDonald include six Fraud – Obtain Money by False Pretenses; five Money Laundering counts and three Embezzlement charges. Since the EDA indictments are coming from the Grand Jury sealed there is no further detail on the charges available at this point.
Poe was shown being booked at 6:31 p.m. Friday evening on one count of Money Laundering – “Financial Transaction, proceeds from known felony activity”.
McDonald was arrested on May 24 on eight initial counts. She was twice served with additional charges while incarcerated. After twice being denied bond as a flight risk by Judge Clifford L. Athey, she was granted $50,000 secured bond on July 31, by newly-placed Judge Bruce D. Albertson.
The special grand jury that has handed down criminal charges, now against four people, McDonald, her former EDA Administrative Assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry, business partner Donald Poe and now her husband, was empanelled within a day of the EDA’s initial $17.6 million civil suit being filed on March 26. The amount of assets seeking recovery has since been raised to over $20 million.
A press release issued today indicated the EDA grand jury has requested a six-month extension to continue its inquiry. It was also requested that Assistant Warren County Commonwealths’ Attorney Bryan Layton continue as the lead prosecutor of the grand jury as Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden prepares to take a seat on the judicial bench.
McDonald was the central figure in the nine defendant EDA civil action. Other defendants included McDonald’s two real estate companies, D’BOYZ and MoveON8, ITFederal LLC and its CEO Truc “Curt” Tran; Earth Right Energy LLC and its principals Poe and Justin Appleton and the late Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron.
Like McDonald, after spending some time in jail, both Henry and Poe were granted secured bonds. Henry was granted $2500 unsecured bond on July 23 after twice having a bond hearing continued in the wake of her June 24 arrest. McDonald and Poe were granted $50,000 and $20,000 secured bonds by Judge Bruce D. Albertson on July 31. Poe was arrested on July 23 on two financial counts related to EDA affairs.
No hearing dates were yet posted for McDonald, North or Poe.
UPDATE: Local school contractor employee arrested on child porn charges
An employee of ABM Service Company, a contractor for custodial services for Warren County Public Schools, was arrested in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 9, and charged with two counts of child pornography. Specifically, on the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail website the charges were cited as “Obscenity – Child Porn – Take part, film child porn, age <15, offender 7+ years”.
Robert Daniel Heishman, 27, was booked into RSW Regional Jail at 5:26 AM Saturday and was being held without bond pending a court hearing according to the RSW Jail website.
Attempts to verify details of Heishman’s employment with the school system administration prior to publication were unsuccessful.
Melody Shepard, Assistant Superintendent of Warren County Schools said that WCPS is co-operating with the investigation.
This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.
Cyberstalking indictment highlights the dark side of social media contacts
The indictment filed October 15 (2019) against a 19-year-old Odessa, Texas man accused of cyberstalking and making social media threats against the family of a 16-year-old Linden girl who was found dead not far from her Apple Mountain home 12 days after going missing the evening of April 26, 2018, show the dark underbelly of social media use to dark and pathological ends.
While Adrian Raul O’Dell is charged on four counts related to online threats and harassment of Sarah Rose Genari’s mother, father, sister and brother occurring between June 2018 and June 2019, the indictment indicates O’Dell’s claim of driving the 16-year-old Warren County girl two thirds of the way across the country to suicide through their social media contacts prior to her disappearance and the May 8, 2018, discovery of her body in a heavily wooded area just off the road not far from her home.
SRG, as Sarah Rose Genari is referred to in the indictment, died of what was ruled by the state coroner’s office as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“From on or around September 2017, to on or around March 2018, SRG had an online relationship with defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL, with whom she communicated about, among other topics, depression and suicide,” the indictment states. It continues to describe several subsequent online and social media interactions in which O’Dell references himself in the third person or uses Facebook alter egos to direct credit for SRG’s death to “Adrian O’Dell”.
“In or around June 2018, defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL sent an email to the WCSO using a Gmail account, email@example.com. In the email, defendant told a WCSO investigator that he knew who drove SRG to suicide and that the person was ‘Adrian,’ who lived in Odessa, Texas … In or around June 2018, defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL, using Amino, an online social media application, made posts and messaged others also using Amino in which he claimed responsibility and took credit for SRG’s death,” the indictment continues.
The indictment also describes a November 29, 2018, “anonymous tip” to the FBI stating that a suspect named Adrian O’Dell of Odessa, Texas “has willingly admitted to killing (SRG).”
In August 2018, just three months after Sara Genari’s death, O’Dell is described establishing contact with the Genari family through Facebook Messenger, asking if they were related to the deceased girl.
By December 2018, O’Dell is said to have made contact with the family and friends of SRG through a Facebook account named “Amanda Williams” in which screenshots of Snapchat messages in which Snapchat user “EN stated how he killed SRG.”
The family did not respond and/or blocked the “Amanda Williams” account, the indictment states.
O’Dell then is alleged to have used other Facebook identities to contact Genari’s family and friends, two under the name “Tim Johnson” in which O’Dell began sending profanity-laced, “gangsta”-tinged lingo berating and threatening family members and bragging about causing the girl’s death.
“…I’m glad I called that hit out on her, I’m glad I killed her … was fun to do. Posting about me on here?? You dumb af hoe I’ll put a 5k bag on your head and have you dead just like I did your … daughter I know your exact address hoe Go ahead and press charges and try and arrest me. You better hope they do or its ur a** I’ll come to Virginia and blow up yo sh*t … I made his daughter take y’all gun for some fun. Guess I am Satan …Give me two months and y’all gonna be in a coffin … Don’t mess with gang sh*t bruh You’ll end up like your daughter … Post about me again and I’ll show you wtf happens,” was part of a December 20, 2018 message to Genari’s mother.
On December 28, 2018, he wrote Genari’s sister, “… that’s why we … killed her, Adrian and all of us. You think you guys are gonna catch us, y’all won’t bruh …a whole a** police investigation. Y’all Stoopid! I guess we will just keep getting away with it …”
I guess “he” and “they” guessed wrong.
“The subscriber information for the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses associated with the above accounts and messages – i.e. <firstname.lastname@example.org; Amino; FBI Tip; and Facebook accounts for ‘Adrian O’Dell’, ‘Amanda Williams’, and ‘Tim Johnson’ – correspond to defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL’s residence in Odessa, Texas,” the final evidentiary paragraph of the indictment reads leading into the five counts O’Dell was arrested on.
“Cyberstalking and communicating threats through social media are serious federal crimes and prosecuting them is a priority of this office,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen stated in the Western District of Virginia, Harrisonburg Division press release on the O’Dell indictments, adding, “I am grateful for the hard work of the FBI and the Warren County Sheriff’s office in identifying this defendant and bringing him to justice.
“This case is important to us because a young girl’s family, while still mourning her death, was re-victimized with the messages sent by the accused. We are grateful for the assistance of the FBI El Paso Division’s Midland Resident Agency and the United States Attorney’s Office during the course of this investigation.”
The Western District press release on the O’Dell arrest notes that Assistant United States Attorney Kate Rumsey will prosecute the case for the United States.
Evidentiary issues delay Michelle Henry hearing to January 23
Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton and Michelle Henry co-counsel David Hensley and Ryan Nuzzo were granted a joint motion to continue a scheduled preliminary hearing to January 23, at 8:45 a.m.
Judge Bruce D. Albertson granted the continuance after Layton agreed with Hensley’s observation that complications in digitizing the voluminous amount of materials related to the EDA financial fraud investigation and Special Grand Jury documentation leading to criminal indictments related to that investigation had prevented Discovery Motion materials from yet being made available to the defense.
“We have nothing to review, none whatsoever,” Hensley told the court.
Layton told the court that progress had been made in the digitization process the Virginia Supreme Court has suggested to deal with an unusual amount of evidence and documentation related to the EDA criminal and civil cases. However, he observed that, “Unfortunately we are in an unusual situation with a great deal of Discovery material.”
Estimates of the involved material in previous hearing discussions has ranged from 700,000 to one million pages; an amount that has drawn the attention of the Virginia Supreme Court according to Warren County Circuit Court Clerk Janice Shanks.
“We are in rare waters,” Judge Albertson observed of the evidentiary situation.
He ruled that both sides, including legal staffs and the defendant, could have access to available Special Grand Jury transcripts related to the two felony embezzlement charges former EDA Administrative Assistant Henry faces. However the judge told the attorneys that while those Special Grand Jury materials could be reviewed, they could not be copied and must be kept confidential within the legal teams working the case.
In seeking a date for the continued hearing, Albertson noted he would be in Warren County January 22nd through 24th for a three-day trial on the EDA-related criminal charges against Donnie Poe. Henry’s hearing, during which a trial date may be set in her cases, was set prior to the start of Poe’s trial’s second day.
Henry was arrested on June 24 on two felony counts of embezzlement for the “unlawful use, disposal, conversion, embezzlement of property of the EDA”. Her arrest came exactly one month after her former boss Jennifer McDonald’s first arrest (May 24) on what has since climbed to 32 felony indictments against the former EDA executive director related to financial fraud allegations.
Dates attached to the Henry’s warrants are for actions occurring between October 1 and December 30, 2016 and September 1, 2014 to December 30, 2016. Henry was cited for involvement in dispersal of assets tied to the B&G Goods retail operation in the old Stokes Mart building that the EDA purchased in 2014, as well in a possible scheme related to the building’s purchase.
“MCDONALD is suspected of colluding with HENRY, LAMBERT, and possibly POE to acquire the Stokes Mart property under false pretense to facilitate several different embezzle schemes of which payments herein as repairs and maintenance for B&G or paid directly to LAMBERT are approximately $21,000,” CPA fraud investigator Cherry Bekaert wrote in its EDA financial investigation report.
Texts between Henry and McDonald that are part of the Cherry Bekaert report on its investigation of EDA financial affairs indicate discussion between the two of investment stakes in the B&G Goods business.
Due to judge transfers and recusals Henry spent a month in jail before Albertson, the chief presiding judge of Virginia’s 26th Judicial District took over the bulk of EDA cases. On July 23 Albertson granted Henry a $2500 secured bond on the two charges against her.
EDA hearings done for the day – Let’s go get McDonald again
Maybe that’s the reason the larger Warren County Circuit Courtroom “A” wasn’t available to move into to accommodate the full house in diminutive Courtroom “B” for the EDA criminal and County Supervisors Removal Petition hearings Monday morning – new indictments brewing from the EDA Special Grand Jury that often meets in the larger Courtroom A.
According to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail website former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald was arrested Monday afternoon on four new felony indictments related to the EDA financial scandal.
She was arrested by the Virginia State Police and booked at 1:25 p.m., an hour-and-25 minutes after the Removal Petition Show Cause Hearing adjourned at noon to close the day’s open court proceedings regarding the EDA. She was released just over an hour later at 2:26 p.m. on what appeared to be a $5,000 secured bond.
If our memory serves us that is McDonald’s third arrest, raising the number of financial felony charges she faces to 32. She was arrested on four initial counts on May 24, saw that number climb to 14 while incarcerated without bond as a flight risk. She was eventually granted bond by new presiding Judge Bruce D. Albertson on July 31. Albertson took over EDA cases as Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. left for the Virginia State Appeals Court.
The 42-year-old McDonald was arrested on 14 new charges on August 23, the same day her husband Samuel North and business partner Donald Poe were arrested on related charges, Poe for the second time after first being charged on three counts in the EDA case on July 23. After spending the weekend in jail, all three were bonded out Monday, August 26.
On Monday, October 28, McDonald was out on a $50,000 secured bond on the 28 previous charges she has been arrested on. Noting the fluid nature of the Special Grand Jury investigation regarding his client, at an earlier hearing McDonald’s criminal attorney Peter Greenspun had asked for some arrangement to prevent repeated, prolonged incarcerations for every new charge levied against his client.
Perhaps that ability to post a smaller, secured bond to obtain immediate release is that arrangement.
The new charges are Fraud, Uttering; Larceny – Embezzlement – $200 plus; Money Laundering – Financial Transaction from known felony activity; and Fraud – Obtain money by false pretenses, $500 (or more).
County officials, EDA board members have good day in court – will it last?
After hearing combined arguments from attorneys for 11 of 13 County municipal and Economic Development Authority defendants present on why ancient English Common Law did not create 21st Century legal grounds for criminal prosecution regarding unintentional dereliction of the oversight duty of their office, Judge Bruce D. Albertson ruled for those defendants.
Also on Monday Albertson denied a Removal Petition request that all five sitting County Supervisors be immediately removed from the conduct of their office prior to the resolution of a Show Cause Hearing on that Removal Petition filed October 18.
“For me as a judge to act now is potentially influencing the outcome of the election,” Judge Albertson observed in denying immediate removal.
However in a possible harbinger of things to come, the judge added that “there are other conceivable outcomes civil and criminally” as to a potential final resolution of this citizen-elected official dispute.
On a motion by defense counsel for the supervisors that petition was sent to the County Registrar for verification that the required 10% of county voters in each voting district signing the petition, were in fact registered county voters. A return date of November 22 at 8:45 a.m. was set to get the result of that Registrar’s Report.
More on that initial Removal ruling later, but first to the court decision quashing the criminal charges against those county supervisors, the county administrator and past and present EDA board members.
After retiring to chambers to consider his ruling after an hour and seven minutes of legal arguments and counterarguments, 13 minutes later Judge Albertson returned to sustain the collective motions to quash the three misdemeanor indictments against all 11 defendants whose attorneys were present and participating in the arguments.
Upon that ruling, an observing co-counsel for Tom Sayre and Tony Carter, whose counsel was not present due to a scheduling conflict, both rose to ask that they or their client be included in the ruling, drawing some laughter from a packed courtroom.
“That makes sense,” Judge Albertson said, allowing the joining of the two in the judgment as had been discussed earlier were the ruling to go that way.
Albertson noted he was unable to find any evidence codifying misfeasance and nonfeasance as prosecutable misdemeanor offenses in the Commonwealth of Virginia, even under English Common Law at the base of U.S. law. He said the only related legal reference to the two charges he could find was in a 1967 civil case in England.
“What else is out there? It’s like finding a black hole by the gravity moving around it,” Albertson said, noting that the closest DCC Code that was found to bring the charges under was “solicitation”.
Solicitation of what, the court may have asked.
Acting Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton argued that while “as ill-defined as it may be, there is a legal precedent” for the charges, in arguing against the motions to quash the indictments.
Several attorneys jumped on that argument.
“ ‘As ill-defined as may’ be is repugnant to Virginia Law,” David Crump, who represented four defendants, replied to Layton’s assertion of precedent.
“ ‘As uncertain and vague as it is’ supersedes due process and fairness and is repugnant to the Virginia Constitution,” David Silek, representing former EDA Treasurer William “Billy” Biggs, added.
As Royal Examiner reported on September 8, of the three “feasance” failings of public office only malfeasance is codified as criminal by the Virginia Legislature, and that as a misdemeanor offense, though one that could lead to more serious charges.
The dividing line between malfeasance and misfeasance and nonfeasance is intent.
Malfeasance is defined as “intentional conduct that is wrongful or unlawful” while nonfeasance is defined “as a failure to act where there was a duty to act” and misfeasance is described as “conduct that is lawful but inappropriate”.
All the charges relate to the County and EDA Boards’ continued allowance of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald to operate without oversight, restrictions or direct supervisory control as a financial investigation of EDA affairs was closing in on her between September and late December 2018. McDonald resigned under mounting pressure from that Cherry Bekaert financial fraud investigation on December 20, 2018, admitting to liability for the return of $2.7 million in EDA assets. The EDA claims her liability is much higher.
The misdemeanor indictments cited McDonald’s movement of around $309,000 to her own benefit during that four-month period at the end of 2018, setting the groundwork for the charges. While the EDA civil litigation is seeking return of a total of $21.3 million now, due to the one-year statute of limitations on misdemeanor charges, earlier transactions could not be included in the indictments.
Removal on hold
Helping fill Circuit Courtroom B Monday morning were a number of citizens involved in the Removal Petition filed against all five County supervisors on October 18. As noted above, they left disappointed.
Not only was their request for immediate removal of the Warren County Board of Supervisors denied, but the foundation of their petition, the criminal misdemeanor indictments against the supervisors regarding a lack of due diligent oversight of EDA operations the last four months of 2018 were quashed as not legally prosecutable by Virginia law, no matter how deep you dig back to its roots in English Common Law.
Following adjournment, Removal Petition attorney Tim Johnson said he did not believe the quashing of the criminal indictments was a major blow to the Removal initiative. While no longer under criminal indictment for a lack of supervisory oversight of EDA finances at the hands of an executive director under increased scrutiny, misfeasance and nonfeasance can be “grounds for impeachment of a high official” Johnson told the press outside the courtroom.
So involved supervisors still on the board in the wake of the November 5 Election can be held accountable for past failures, Johnson believes. As noted during the hearing two of those supervisors, Board Chairman Dan Murray and Linda Glavis are not seeking reelection. Tom Sayre is running for reelection against Walter Mabe in the Shenandoah District. And Archie Fox and Tony Carter are not up for reelection for another two years.
With the citizen petition filed with the Court, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has taken up the Removal case for the plaintiffs. Acting Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton called the citizen loss of faith in their County elected officials “an unusual circumstance in my experience”.
In arguing for the plaintiff’s request for the immediate suspension of the supervisors said he believed “the damage to the public trust is so severe” as to justify the immediate suspension of their powers to govern.
County Attorney Jason Ham and co-counsel Jim Cornwell countered that there was no basis in the facts of the citizen petition to justify such a radical suspension of the municipal government function.
Cornwell said in arguing four such cases he had never seen immediate removal authorized by the court. The only case he was familiar with where the judge did order removal, with a six page Opinion he noted, was a Norfolk City Treasurer who had been convicted on six embezzlement charges – “Here’s there’s none of that,” Cornwell argued. “There is some vague reference that ‘something may happen.’ There is no evidence, it is a feeling of some people … Why suspend on an opinion?” he asked the court.
At the request of the Commonwealth, Albertson retired to chambers to watch Royal Examiner videos of two county meetings, on October 1 and October 25, with counsel from both sides before rendering that decision. Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, Layton said he believed the videos illustrated the unusual and high level public “loss of faith in the Board of Supervisors” due to the EDA financial fraud situation.
Court adjourned at 11:20 a.m. and reconvened at 11:42 a.m. following the video viewing.
Judge Albertson observed of what had been viewed, as one video segment that “devolved into yelling” and another that had been “very respectful” in its conduct of public speakers expressing themselves.
County Attorney Ham summarized what he had seen as less than ten people expressing public dissatisfaction at the hiring of legal counsel for the supervisors at taxpayer expense. He argued against overturning the electoral will of the full voting population of the county for a vocal minority of its citizens.
Layton countered that while only 10 citizens may have spoken publicly, many more were there in support of those 10; and the citizens’ petition when verified would represent 10% of the voting population, not just 10 citizens.
However Judge Albertson denied the immediate removal request.
He called it a “drastic remedy” adding that the Removal Petition itself was a “drastic measure” itself and perhaps a “pressure valve” on public discontent.
And as noted above, he worried over a judicial action that could influence a looming legislative election just two week away and alluded to other possible legal directions this citizen-elected official dispute might take.
Update: Suspect found and charged after fleeing Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputy
On Thursday October 24, 2019, at approximately 5:20pm, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeremy Seabright observed a small passenger car traveling northbound on Shenandoah Avenue at a high rate of speed. Deputy Seabright attempted to stop the vehicle. The vehicle fled from the deputy, traveling northbound on Shenandoah Avenue, then proceeded to merge onto east bound Interstate 66.
The driver of the vehicle was observed driving in a reckless manner and at a high rate of speed. Deputy Seabright determined at this point not to pursue the vehicle any further, but was able to obtain the vehicle’s license plate number. Deputies continued to check the area for the subject. While deputies checked the Linden area, Warren County 911 Communications received a call about a male and a vehicle matching the description of the initial vehicle that had just pulled into the park-and-ride beside the Exxon Station on John Marshall Hwy. Deputies arrived on location and identified that this was the same vehicle in question.
Witnesses were able to lead deputies to a male that was reportedly trying to get into vehicles outside the Apple House and then proceeded to enter the business. The male was located inside the women’s bathroom. The subject was taken into custody without incident by Warren County deputies.
The male was identified as 44-year-old William Jackson Bailey, from 3611 Cherry Hill Road, Linden, VA 22642. While collecting statements from witnesses, it was determined that the subject had also attempted to enter an occupied vehicle while trying to flee from law enforcement.
William Jackson Bailey was charged with the following:
- Reckless Driving 46.2-852
- Disregard Police Signal 46.2-817
- Destruction of Property 18.2-137
- Attempted Car Jacking 18.2-26/18.2-58.1
Additional charges are pending. William Jackson Bailey was held without bond at RSW Regional Jail.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Front Royal Police Department, and we would also like to thank the citizens for their assistance during this incident. If anyone has any additional information about this case, please contact Deputy Jeremy Seabright at 540-635-4128 or email@example.com.