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Roanoke Councilman Robert Jeffrey, Jr. asked to take leave of absence amidst charges

Jeffrey recused himself from the vote Monday night.
(WDBJ)
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 11:32 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke Councilman Robert Jeffrey, Jr. was asked to take a leave of absence Monday night at the end of a Roanoke City Council meeting amidst charges brought against him for larceny and embezzlement.

The council vote was unanimous.

Jeffrey, Jr. was indicted October 4, 2021 on two counts of felony obtaining money under false pretenses from the Economic Development Authority for the City of Roanoke. The amount of the alleged larceny, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Don Caldwell, is “substantially above the $1,000 threshold for a felony larceny.”

According to court records obtained by WDBJ7, Jeffrey is accused of obtaining two COVID stimulus grants from the city of Roanoke totaling $15,000. One was provided to Jeffrey Media, owned by Jeffrey, Before obtaining the grants, Jeffrey filled out an application provided by the city’s Economic Development Authority for the funds designed to be used for a small business grant program, saying he had numerous full-time employees who would benefit from the grant. But according to court documents, all his employees were contract workers and not eligible for the grant funds.

Jeffrey also claimed he lost $28,000 in advertising revenue due to COVID, but court documents indicate that number was “more than probably exaggerated or inflated,” as was the monthly payroll amount he submitted.

The indictments are based on evidence uncovered as part of the investigation that led to Jeffrey’s earlier indictments for embezzlement; he is accused of taking money from the Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization while working as a property manager. The charges are not connected to his role on the City Council, on which he still sits.

“I understand the reason why my colleagues would have to do this to get to this measure, but I also understand some of these reasonings are political in nature,” added Jeffrey when asked to respond by Mayor Sherman Lea. “My intent is to stay in office. My intent is to do what I was elected to do by this city and I will do that until my court date to which I will be vindicated from these charges.”

Jeffrey recused himself from the vote Monday night.

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