WASHINGTON — A grand jury in Virginia has indicted 14 people, including all of Warren County’s top government officials, on charges of misfeasance as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of embezzlement and money laundering inside the local economic development authority, Virginia State Police announced Tuesday.
Among those charged were County Executive Douglas Stanley and all five of the county’s Board of Supervisors: board Chairman Daniel Murray, R-North River; Tony Carter, R-Happy Creek; Tom Sayre, R-Shenandoah; Archie Fox, R-Fork; and Linda Glavis, R-South River. Former county schools Superintendent Luke Drescher and former County Attorney Daniel Whitten also were charged, according to a state police news release.
A state police spokeswoman did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment. An official at the office of the Warren County commonwealth’s attorney, which is handling the criminal investigation, declined to comment.
Stanley, the county executive, declined to comment, as did Whitten, the ex-county attorney. Several others did not immediately return messages for comment.
Former Warren County Supervisor Ron Llewellyn, who also was indicted, said the charges stem from allegations that local officials did not react quickly enough to suspicions that Jennifer McDonald, the ex-director of the economic development authority, was embezzling agency funds, to the tune of $21 million, authorities allege.
McDonald has been charged with 28 felony counts in that investigation, which, among other things, alleges that she doctored invoices to steer money into bank accounts that she controlled in a scheme to enrich herself, her friends and her family.
“I don’t know how we could have acted any faster,” said Llewellyn, who served on the board of the economic authority when McDonald’s alleged crimes occurred.
Less than a week after an independent review of the agency’s books found suspected illegal activity by McDonald, the board moved to fire her last December, Llewellyn said.
McDonald — who is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by the authority — resigned from her position before that happened, then was arrested in May. She is now among several people facing felony charges in the alleged schemes.
“I don’t know how we should have known earlier,” Llewellyn said. “The accountants are supposed to do their job. Am I supposed to go and ask them if I can review their books and their auditing positions? I’m not in a position where I would understand it if I saw it.”
Local activists, who’ve argued that McDonald couldn’t have pulled off her alleged crimes without help from inside the county government, said Tuesday’s indictment proves there is more to investigate.
“Somebody is finally listening,” said Melanie Salins, a member of a community watchdog group called the Warren County Coalition. “It’s not every day that your entire government gets arrested. It’s so shameful.”