Former EDA Director Pleads “Not Guilty” to Fraud and Money Laundering | Nvdaily
A former executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority pleaded not guilty on Friday to federal charges of fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
Jennifer R. McDonald appeared for an arraignment hearing via Zoom in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The hearing lasted about three minutes.
Judge Joel C. Hoppe asked McDonald how she argued to the four counts of bank and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. McDonald has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
McDonald, 44, of Front Royal, remains free on a personal commitment. Deputy Public Defender Andrea Harris represents McDonald’s as court appointed legal counsel. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Welsh is pursuing the case.
During the impeachment process, Hoppe asked McDonald several questions which she answered under oath. McDonald said she has a bachelor’s degree. McDonald said she had worked for EDA and as a real estate agent. She currently works as a delivery driver.
McDonald said, in response to another question, that she was not and had not been recently treated by a doctor or psychiatrist for mental illness or addiction. McDonald said she had not taken any drugs or medication or drank alcohol in the previous 24 hours.
McDonald waived a formal reading of the indictment.
Hoppe has scheduled the trial for November 3. Harris said she would likely file a motion that day asking the court to pursue the case.
McDonald served as executive director of the EDA from April 2008 to December 2018. A federal court grand jury handed an indictment of 34 charges under seal on August 25. McDonald appeared in court on Tuesday where the clerk unsealed the indictment and federal authorities. arrested her on all four counts.
The convictions on the charges carry maximum sentences of up to 30 years for bank fraud, 20 years for wire fraud and 10 years for money laundering. A conviction for aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.
In his first court appearance, Hoppe granted McDonald’s release on his own pledge. Hoppe ordered McDonald’s to go to the pretrial services and comply with the terms of the bail.
The indictment accuses McDonald of devising and participating in schemes in which she used EDA money to make payments on personal credit cards and for credit card balances of members of the family. McDonald’s created false documents, including bills and real estate documents, to disguise the scheme, the indictment says. She also falsified the names of other people to disguise and carry out the fraud scheme, the indictment says.
McDonald’s submitted false documents to bank employees and auditors and settlement agreements; and also made wire transfers, withdrawn money, deposited checks and issued cashier’s checks and payments to financial institutions to promote fraud, the indictment says.
McDonald’s owned and operated DaBoyz LLC. The indictment identifies a co-owner of DaBoyz solely by the initials “DM” McDonald also owned and operated MoveOn8 LLC.
McDonald designed and participated in a scheme from June 3, 2014 to December 20, 2018 to defraud EDA and obtain money and property through false and fraudulent pretexts, representations and promises, the act says. charge. McDonald, through his post at EDA, had access to funds owned by the current accounts and credit facility authority on behalf of the entity, the indictment says.
In one case, federal officials accuse McDonald of using EDA money to repay Little Rugratz LLC loans in which she and a family member held a stake.
The indictment also describes the real estate schemes that authorities claim McDonald pursued with the EDA money.
“(McDonald), without authorization, used EDA funds to purchase real estate for its own benefit on behalf of others and on behalf of DaBoyz, LLC,” the indictment reads. “For these real estate transactions, (McDonald’s) often earned commissions as a real estate agent.”
The indictment says McDonald used EDA funds without authorization to purchase properties from:
* 400 Craig Drive, Stephens City
* 118 Jutland Court, Stephens City
* 1309 Robinhood Lane, Front Royal
* 2890 Buck Mountain Road, Browntown, on behalf of DaBoyz LLC
* 1321 Happy Creek Road, Front Royal, on behalf of DaBoyz LLC
* 2951 Rileyville Road, Rileyville, on behalf of DaBoyz LLC.
The indictment goes on to state that McDonald’s used the EDA money, without authorization, to make payments on balances accumulated on personal and family members’ credit cards. McDonald’s created false documents, including bills and real estate documents, to disguise the scheme, the indictment says. McDonald’s forged other people’s names, submitted false documents to bank workers, auditors and settlement agents, the indictment says. She made wire transfers, withdrew funds, deposited checks, obtained cashier’s checks and paid financial institutions as part of the scheme, the indictment says.
The first count accuses McDonald of electronic fraud. Indictment accuses McDonald of transferring a total of $ 3,562,100 on three dates in 2016 and 2017 from an EDA account with The First Bank and Trust to a Union Bank and Trust account on behalf of TLC Settlements LLC. McDonald’s transferred a total of $ 416,491 in four transactions from May 30, 2018 to July 6, 2018, from an account held at First Bank and Trust on behalf of EDA to another account held by the authority at United Bank .
Another count in the indictment accuses McDonald of bank fraud. Count accuses McDonald of making debits via cashier’s checks totaling $ 740,000 to a United Bank account in the name of EDA payable to Service Title of Front Royal, LLC , on various dates from July 24, 2014 to August 31, 2015.
McDonald’s made wire transfers totaling $ 3,562,099 from an account held at The First Bank and Trust on behalf of the EDA to an account held at Union Bank and Trust held by TLC Settlements LLC, from 14 September 2016 to April 26, 2017, specifies the indictment. McDonald’s made payments to a Sears personal credit card through Citibank with four checks from an EDA account with United Bank totaling $ 51,915 on various dates in June 2018.
The indictment accuses McDonald of committing aggravated identity theft from September 8, 2016 to September 20, 2016, during and in connection with wire fraud.
The criminal indictment is separate from a civil lawsuit filed by the EDA which accuses McDonald and a handful of co-accused of embezzling or embezzling authority funds for their benefit and used in various real estate projects. . The EDA claims that McDonald’s used more than $ 20 million of the authority’s money in its schemes. State law allowed the EDA to triple the amount claimed in the lawsuit.
A Warren County Circuit Court judge recently granted a motion for partial final judgment that marked the end of the EDA’s complaint about McDonald’s, but leaves the case active against the co-defendants. McDonald has agreed through her legal counsel that she is indebted to the EDA for $ 9 million.
McDonald’s bankruptcy case in U.S. District Court remains active as a trustee continues to liquidate its assets.