The criminal trial of the former executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, Jennifer Rae McDonald, will not begin on October 11, as scheduled.
A U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Virginia has adjourned Jennifer R. McDonald’s trial for fraud, money laundering and identity theft until May 2023.
McDonald is accused of embezzling money from the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority when he was its executive director and using the money to purchase real estate and conduct d other personal matters.
The federal trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 11, which was pushed back to an earlier date after McDonald’s defense attorney, Deputy Federal Public Defender Andrea Harris, requested more time given the voluminous amount of evidence that She received from the prosecutor’s office along with electronic discovery which includes forensic examinations of several key electronic devices.
A June 23 motion filed in federal court by Harris said “the additional discovery is contained on a hard drive and occupies 356 gigabytes of space. One of the devices alone contains more than 45,000 e-mails and nearly 10,000 documents.
“These particular electronic devices are likely to be critically important to further investigation of this case, and additional independent forensic analysis of one or more of these devices will likely be required.”
Harris and U.S. Attorney Christopher Cavanaugh filed a joint motion June 21 asking the court to designate the case as complex, exclude time from expeditious trial requirements, and the defendant’s unopposed motion to postpone the trial. trial date. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon granted the motions on Monday, June 27.
Dillon postponed the start of the trial to mid-May 2023 and designated the case as complex under federal rules and ordered that the court exclude the period from June 21, 2022 to May 15, 2023 from the calculation of the Speedy’s delay. Trial Act.
By law, a defendant’s trial date must begin within 70 days of the date the indictment is filed or the defendant’s initial appearance in court. A judge can set a new date without violating a person’s rights under the law if not granting such a request would deprive either party of the time needed to prepare their cases.
On August 25, 2021, a grand jury returned an indictment charging McDonald’s with 34 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated impersonation, with some allegations dating back to 2014. .
The indictment came after a complex and lengthy state and federal investigation by a special state grand jury and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. (FBI) The investigation began in 2018, continued until Ms McDonald’s indictment nearly three years later and continues today.
The motion indicates that the Office of the Federal Defender currently has two attorneys, an investigator and two paralegals working on the case due to the volume of findings and the number of witnesses.
McDonald made his first court appearance on August 31, 2021, with a private attorney. The court then appointed a federal defender to represent McDonald’s. She was arraigned on September 3 and had originally scheduled a one-day trial for November 3.
The defense filed a motion to continue on October 26, which the court granted; a six-week trial was scheduled to begin on October 11, 2022.
Civil lawsuit filed in Warren County Circuit Court by Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority claims defendants, including McDonald, participated in schemes using EDA money without authorization to conduct real estate transactions and other personal affairs. McDonald and several co-defendants have since been dismissed as parties to the trial by partial summary judgments.
Civil trials in the case are expected to begin in early July and will likely lead to further investigation, Harris said, and would involve overlapping issues and witnesses that are also relevant to effective preparation for McDonald’s criminal trial.
With over a million pages of discovery documents and the judge declaring the criminal case complex, no one knows when we’ll see McDonald in the courtroom.