STANARDSVILLE — A Greene County supervisor is one of two men charged with felony theft in an investigation into illegal farming on county land.
Monroe District Supervisor David Cox, 62, of Stanardsville, and Richard Eppard, 55, also of Stanardsville, turned themselves in to Virginia State Police on Friday, the day after a grand jury handed down grand larceny indictments against them.
They are charged with farming hay on vacant county property for personal gain. Tax maps note the property as 51-A25C near Dairy and Watson roads in Greene County. The 200-acre property is the proposed Ruckersville location for a 900 million-gallon reservoir as part of the Greene County Water Supply and Treatment Project, formerly called White Run Reservoir.
The investigation was initiated by the county Commonwealth’s Attorney Matt Hardin, who was granted a motion to empanel the grand jury.
In March, a state trooper was appointed to investigate the matter.
“I’m gratified the grand jury has concluded its investigation,” Hardin said. “The grand jury found probable cause that two individuals committed grand larceny against the county of Greene.”
As commonwealth’s attorney, Hardin is independent of the Board of Supervisors. Greene County officials, meanwhile, have indicated that they do not believe a theft occurred.
In an email obtained by the Greene County Record through an open records request, Greene County Attorney Thomas Lacheney chastised Hardin for not consulting the county prior to submitting the motion.
Lacheney noted the county, as owners of the parcel, would be the victim in this case and noted the county does not feel “something of value has been taken from us.” Instead, Lacheney suggested in his email that growth on the property was “worthless weeds.”
Bill Martin, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said he was aware of the charges and believes Cox should continue serving on the board until the judicial process has run its course.
“Mr. Cox is presumed to be innocent and he is legally entitled to the benefits of that presumption,” Martin said. “Therefore, there is no reason for his service as Greene County’s Monroe District Supervisor to be interrupted or otherwise disturbed by the pendency of such matter.”
Both Cox and Eppard are expected to appear in Greene County Circuit Court at 8:45 a.m. June 11.