ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR)– On Tuesday, the grand jury indicted Roanoke City Councilman Robert Jeffrey, Jr. on two counts of felony embezzlement.
The indictment alleges that the councilman stole significantly more than $1,000 between May of 2020 and April of 2021.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney put out a statement on Tuesday, July 6, saying the indictments follow a complaint made by the “Northwest Neighborhood Environment Organization.” It is said that Jeffrey manages the property.
The organization filed an eviction lawsuit against the Roanoke Councilman’s media company last month, alleging a breach of the lease other than non-payment of rent.
Virginia Tech Political Science Professor Karen Hult says that the councilman is in a difficult position when it comes to either taking a leave of absence or stepping down from the position.
Hult says it would be smart for the Councilman to first consult with any legal representation before responding to the indictment. She added that in that discussion, he needs to consider these questions.
“It may well be that he will choose to say something along the lines of I am not guilty of these charges. I am going to maintain my innocence and tell my story in front of a judge and potentially a jury,” she said.
However, Hult believes that the indictment could mean something more than what the public is being informed about. She questioned whether or not the indictment is masking something else going on behind the scenes.
People on the streets of Roanoke weighed in on the news of the indictment. Sam Matson, a resident of downtown Roanoke, says a situation like this loses the trust of the community.
“You work for the people, and if you can’t do your duty and responsibility to serve us…and you act in this manner I just think its not right and morally and ethically wrong,” said Matson.
Even though Jeffrey has not commented on the indictment, Matson feels like he should step down from his position.
UPDATE 4:25 p.m.: Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell said in a statement, “I presented these indictments following complaint of the Northwest Neighborhood Environment Organization and subsequent investigation by the Roanoke City Police Department in conjunction with members of my staff.”
According to Caldwell, Jeffrey, “does not appear to be a flight risk or present a safety risk to the public at large.” He is recommending to the Court that a $10,000 personal recognizance bond be set for Jeffrey and that he should be allowed to turn himself into police by Friday, July 9.
Caldwell also says that Jeffrey is expected to be bonded to appear at the Aug. 2 Circuit Court docket and a trial date would be set at that time.
ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Roanoke City Councilman Robert Jeffrey, Jr. has been indicted by a grand jury on two charges of felony embezzlement.
The first charge dates back between May 1, 2020, through October 2020 and the second charge dates back to Nov. 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021.
Each charge indicates that Jeffrey allegedly embezzled “money or other personal property, tangible or intangible, in the amount of $1,000 or more, which he had received by virtue of his employment, position of trust, or agency relationship with Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization,” read court documents.
Jeffrey was present during the morning session of Roanoke City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, July 6; however, he was not present for the afternoon session.
WFXR News is working to gather additional information about this breaking story and will update this article when new information becomes available.