Connect with us

EDA in Focus

Tederick to WC: Town can dissolve EDA unilaterally and take half what’s left

Published

on

Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley, left, watches as Interim Front Royal Mayor Matt Tederick gears up for some EDA liaison discussion.

Town-County Liaison meetings have tended toward briefly informative, not to mention municipally dry in recent years – enter Interim Front Royal Mayor Matt Tederick and soon-to-be-retiring County Board Chairman Dan Murray.

While it may have been the LAST agenda item to be discussed Thursday, July 18, the Tederick-propelled discussion of dissolution of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority was FIRST on the list of NOT brief, nor dryly peripheral in recent memory.

One can only wonder what might happen when the full County and Town elected boards and staff gather in one room to continue the discussion. That meeting is being plotted for sooner, rather than later.

But we should work together to straighten this all out, or not: Warren County Board Chairman Dan Murray, County Administrator Doug Stanley and Interim Front Royal Mayor Matt Tederick search for common EDA ground.


Watch a surprisingly direct discussion of the future of the EDA in this exclusive Royal Examiner video – right after the dryer part of the meeting that led up to that municipal conversation:

Share the News:

EDA in Focus

EDA ponders separate future legal representation; elects new officers

Published

on

At right, Dan Whitten’s pending departure to another county will create a County-EDA legal vacuum at an inopportune time. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

At its monthly meeting of August 23 the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors discussed future legal representation in the wake of County and EDA Attorney Dan Whitten’s pending departure for the county attorney’s job in Prince George County.

The County-EDA legal situation is further complicated by Assistant County Attorney Caitlin Jordan’s giving birth the previous day and being on maternity leave through mid-October. Whitten’s last day here is September 13.

The potential of separating the County and EDA’s legal counsel also came up at the EDA Reform Committee meeting four days earlier. The issue of potential County and EDA legal conflicts of interest has been a topic of public and municipal discussion in the wake of the EDA financial fraud investigation and consequent civil litigation.

County Administrator Doug Stanley told the EDA the County is looking for an interim solution pending the hiring of a permanent replacement for Whitten and that dual representation for such a short-term hire could be problematic in the current legal situation.

Two or one attorneys in the future – that is one question facing Warren County and the EDA in coming months, County Administrator Doug Stanley acknowledged.

EDA Board member Ed Daley said independent EDA legal counsel could be a viable solution short term that could end up pointing to a longer term arrangement.

Whitten suggested the EDA seek a contractual rate for a set amount of time, rather than an hourly rate on its legal services. Stanley noted the RSW Jail Authority had such a contractual arrangement with outside counsel at $30,000 per year that was believed to be a cost saver over the long term.

The county administrator noted that part of the justification of moving former County Attorney Doug Napier, now Town Attorney, from part time to full time, was the added work of representing the EDA legally.

A board consensus was to pursue independent representation in the short term at the best financial terms available and see how that experience contributed to the discussion of a long-term legal solution for the EDA and County.

Gray Blanton draws laughter as he taps out after a year as EDA Board Chairman – but will Ed Daley, black sports coat, and Jeff Browne still be smiling after a year as chair and vice chair, respectively?

At the August monthly meeting Board Chair Gray Blanton also said that after a year at the helm he was ready to relinquish the chairmanship. It was observed that Blanton may have not known what he was getting himself into when after about a year on the board he volunteered to take the helm after Greg Drescher’s resignation as chairman last August. As previously reported here, Drescher resigned on August 24, 2018, one day after town officials confronted him, then EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and EDA counsel about years of debt service overpayments by the Town to the EDA.

The EDA board then unanimously elected Ed Daley as chairman; Jeff Browne as vice chairman; and Jorie Martin as secretary; with Tom Patteson re-elected board treasurer.

See these discussions and appointments, as well as the rest of the EDA board discussion of its direction forward in the wake of the financial turmoil surrounding it in this Royal Examiner video:

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Crime/Court

Questions on McDonald arrest linger as EDA quartet remains jailed at RSW

Published

on

Samuel David North after booking into RSW Jail Friday afternoon – Photos RSW Jail website

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 Fears 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, 51, 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 the 42-year-old McDonald being booked at 6:22 p.m. The jail website list of charges against her was 14, the number of her pre-existing charges. So it was not immediately clear if she was facing 14 additional charges or had been booked on a bond violation regarding her 14 pre-existing charges. The Jail website does not list individual case numbers, but only applicable State Codes regarding each charge. So until the case numbers related to her arrest can be verified with court or facility officials the question of McDonald’s arrest on bond violation, new charges, or some combination will remain.

The counts listed 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, 61, was shown being booked at 6:31 p.m. Friday evening on one new felony count of Money Laundering – “Financial Transaction, proceeds from known felony activity”. When Poe was arrested on July 23 he was charged with two felony counts of Obtaining Money by False Pretenses and one count of Perjury.

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.

Above, Jennifer McDonald upon being booked into RSW early Friday evening, Aug. 23; below, McDonald after her initial arrest and booking at RSW on May 24.

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 into March of next year. It was also requested that Assistant Warren County Commonwealths’ Attorney Bryan Layton, who has worked with his boss Brian Madden on the EDA Special Grand Jury inquiry, continue as the lead prosecutor of the grand jury as Commonwealth’s Attorney Madden prepares to take a seat on the judicial bench.

McDonald was the central figure in the nine defendant EDA civil action of March 26. 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. McEathron passed away on May 28 is what Virginia State Police classify as “an unattended death with a firearm nearby”.

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. Henry remains charged with two felony embezzlement charges related to the EDA’s involvement in the B&G Goods small business loan and asset disbursement upon its November 2016 closing.

As noted in a related story, B&G Goods registered agent and co-owner William Lambert became the fourth person arrested on EDA-related charges Friday.

UPDATE: B&G Goods William Lambert makes it four EDA arrests on August 23

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 and one perjury count related to EDA affairs.

No hearing dates were yet posted for McDonald, North, Poe or Lambert. However, presiding EDA case Judge Albertson is based in Harrisonburg, complicating bond hearing scheduling. He took over EDA cases when all county judges recused or indicated they were on the verge of recusal due to familiarity with people involved in the EDA sphere or other aspects of the investigation. However pending his promotion to the Virginia State Appeals Court, Judge Athey has continued to preside over the EDA Special Grand Jury inquiry as indicated by his signature on the August 21 extension and prosecutor orders.

In past hearings Albertson has indicated the possibility of presiding by conference call on basic matters.

Donald Poe upon becoming the third of four EDA defendants booked into RSW Jail the late afternoon and early evening of Aug. 23.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Crime/Court

UPDATE: B&G Goods William Lambert makes it four EDA arrests on August 23

Published

on

William “Billy” Waco Lambert. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

When it rains it pours – and it is raining in Economic Development Authority criminal indictment world this Friday, August 23. Former B&G Goods co-owner and registered agent William “Billy” Waco Lambert made it four people arrested, so far, today on sealed indictments handed down by the Warren County investigating criminality related to the EDA financial fraud investigation.

Lambert, believed to be a former fiancé of a McDonald sister, was booked at RSW Jail at 7:36 p.m. Friday evening. He is charged with two felony counts of Fraud – Obtain Money by False Pretenses and one count of Money Laundering – Financial Transaction, proceeds from known felony activity. Those charges are identical to the three Jennifer McDonald’s husband “Sammy” North was booked on just over two hours earlier, though whether they are directly or indirectly related is unknown.

Like others arrested Friday Lambert is thus far being held without bond pending a hearing date.

B&G Goods was the first business the EDA set up with a small business loan in the now-controversially purchased old Stokes Mart building at 504 East Main Street. The aftermath of selling off business assets following its November 2016 closing and investing in the business appears to be at the root of charges against former EDA Administrative Assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry.

There is a seven-page section devoted to B&G Goods/Stokes Mart in the Cherry Bekaert financial fraud working papers summary.

It also appears that from how new indictments are being posted in the North, Poe and Lambert bookings at RSW Jail that Jennifer McDonald may be facing 14 new indictments today on top of the 14 she had already been arrested and released on bond on.

This developing story will be updated or augmented by additional stories as information becomes available.

McDonald, husband, Poe booked into RSW Jail Friday afternoon, August 23

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Crime/Court

McDonald, husband, Poe booked into RSW Jail Friday afternoon, August 23

Published

on

Samuel David North after booking into RSW Jail Friday afternoon – Photos RSW Jail website

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.

Earlier mug shot of Jennifer McDonald while initially incarcerated in July

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.

Donald Poe upon becoming the third EDA defendant booked into RSW Jail the early evening of Aug. 23.

B&G Goods William Lambert makes it four EDA arrests on August 23

Share the News:
Continue Reading

EDA in Focus

EDA Reform Committee weighs options as information being assembled

Published

on

The EDA Reform Committee gets down to business – Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The committee grown out of the first full joint Town-County meeting to discuss the future of the Economic Development Authority held its first meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, August 22, at the Front Royal Town Hall.

Among topics of discussion were:
– election of a chairman;

– the “Pros and Cons of limiting the EDA mission”;
– “Types of EDA Structures and Relationships in Virginia and Nationally”;
– “How to dissolve the EDA legally”;
– The “EDA filing bankruptcy”;
– And the advisability of separate County, EDA legal counsel.

The short answers were: Archie Fox; probably a good idea to focus on commercial and industrial recruitment and facilitating a positive environment for existing businesses; regional associations and independent ones; probably cannot be done within the existing financial situation but long run make EDA employees County staff; not enough info to determine an answer but probably not; and perhaps separate counsel as a short term trial in the wake of current County-EDA Attorney Dan Whitten’s pending departure for another job on September 13 with his assistant on maternity leave until mid October.

Soon-to-be-departed for other horizons County-EDA Attorney Dan Whitten, left, Committee Chair Archie Fox and new EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons listen to the noise from the other side of the table.

Some public skepticism greeted the announcement of the committee’s makeup of the Town Manager and County Administrator, County and Town Attorneys, EDA Executive Director and one representative of both the Front Royal Town Council and Warren County Board of Supervisors.

And while those two elected municipal officials and appointed administrative and legal staffers may be best positioned bureaucratically to develop a game plan to guide the EDA forward or not, it was their presence in their positions in recent years – save new EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons – as the EDA financial fraud scandal was allegedly developing under their collective noses that contributed to any public perception that a municipally-led committee might not be best qualified to reach a permanent solution to see past mistakes are not repeated.

Perhaps in reaction to such public skepticism, Interim Front Royal Mayor Matt Tederick told Royal Examiner in a recent video interview that he plans to suggest creation of a citizen committee to review the EDA Reform Committee findings.

Interested spectators included six of the seven EDA Board of Directors, from left in back row are Greg Harold and Ed Daley, and in front of them from left, Tom Patteson, Jorie Martin, Jeff Browne and Gray Blanton – only Mark Baker was absent.

But judge for yourself – watch the committee, whose name newest EDA Board member Jorie Martin suggested at Friday morning’s monthly EDA meeting be considered for a change, get their feet wet in establishing what went wrong in the past and how such mistakes can avoid being repeated in the future as the EDA board and staff move to right the ship of community economic development in this Royal Examiner video (And Jorie, we have a name suggestion not so reminiscent of “Reform School” – how about The EDA Steering Committee? After all, they are steering toward a plan of action.)

Share the News:
Continue Reading

EDA in Focus

Bryan Layton appointed to serve as the Special Counsel to assist the Special Grand Jury

Published

on

Bryan Layton, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney for Warren County

The Warren County Circuit Court released this today:

On this 21st day of August, 2019, came the Special Grand Jury, by and through their foreman, Juror 158, and move this Honorable Court to appoint Bryan Layton, Esquire to serve as the Special Counsel to assist the Special Grand Jury in its deliberations and to coordinate with the Warren County Commonwealth Attorney’s office, or any successor designee of that office to assist
with the prosecution of those individuals and or entities to which a True Bill was or will be returned;

Whereupon, the Court was advised that the current Commonwealth Attorney, Brian Madden, will be elevated to the Circuit Court bench on September 1, 2019 and Bryan Layton will serve as Commonwealth Attorney for Warren County until a newly elected Commonwealth Attorney for Warren County assumes that office. Any newly elected Commonwealth Attorney or their designee will be wholly unfamiliar with the activities of the Special Grand Jury and the ends of justice dictate that Mr. Layton continue in his role with the Special Grand Jury. The Special Counsel will coordinate with the newly elected Commonwealth Attorney in the prosecution of any matters arising as a result of the activities of the Special Grand Jury. Further, Mr. Layton has agreed to serve as Special Counsel to the Special Grand Jury and to coordinate and assist in any prosecutions arising therefrom at the rate of $90.00 per hour to commence at such time as he is no longer employed by the Warren County Commonwealth Attorney’s office;

Wherefore, it is ADJUDGED, ORDERED, and DECREED that upon leaving the Warren County Commonwealth Attorney’s office, Mr. Layton shall be employed as Special Counsel to assist the Special Grand Jury and coordinate with the Warren County Commonwealth Attorney’s office or their designee in the prosecution of any indictments arising out of the Special Grand Jury at the rate of $90.00 per hour.

Clifford L. Athey, Jr., Judge

Share the News:
Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
59°
Mostly Cloudy
06:3619:52 EDT
Feels like: 59°F
Wind: 2mph N
Humidity: 88%
Pressure: 30.17"Hg
UV index: 0
MonTueWed
77/62°F
79/65°F
84/58°F

Upcoming Events

Aug
27
Tue
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Aug 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with the instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply[...]
Aug
29
Thu
1:00 pm Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
The McShin Foundation and RSW (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren County) Regional Jail would like to invite you to our substance abuse and recovery summit to be held on August 29, 2019, in Front Royal, Virginia.[...]
Aug
31
Sat
1:00 pm DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Aug 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DJ Skyhigh's End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Come join DJ Skyhigh for his end of summer blast. Lisa Bell will be hosting wine tastings (at an additional charge) of over 50 international wines. Wines may also be purchased by the bottle to[...]
Sep
3
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 3 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
Sep
4
Wed
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 4 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
Sep
7
Sat
10:00 am SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
Sep 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundraiser @ Skyline High School
Skyline High School Marching Band is having a mattress sale fundraiser on Saturday, September 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyline High School (151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, Virginia). There will[...]
12:00 pm 2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Sep 7 @ 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Golf – “Captains Choice Format” 12pm Shotgun “Tail Gate” Food and Drinks – 5pm to 8pm Golf + Food & Drinks $45 Tail Gate Food & Drinks Only $15
1:00 pm Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Sep 7 @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year celebration @ Strokes of Creativity
Join us for our 1-year celebration on Sept. 7 from 1-6 pm. We will have demos, and Artist meet and greets. Unique and one of kind items, face painting, crafts and Chase from Paw Patrol will[...]
6:00 pm FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sep 7 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
In tandem with the 110th anniversary of the church building, the Front Royal United Methodist Church will host Homecoming ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th. Five previous pastors have agreed to return[...]
Sep
10
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 10 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]