Former councilman Robert Jeffrey, Jr. sentenced to prison

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 6:18 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Former Roanoke City Council member Robert Jeffrey, Jr. has been sentenced to two and half years in prison.

Jeffrey was found guilty of obtaining money by false pretenses, and entered a plea of no contest to a charge of embezzlement.

Jeffrey did not make any statements during the three-hour hearing Monday afternoon, but a string of character witnesses spoke of his civic activities and good work in Roanoke and in Seattle.

“I love my son,” said Robert Jeffrey, Sr. “And I think intent is everything. He did not set out to hurt people. He did not set out to steal.”

Jeffrey’s Attorney Melvin Hill stressed his client had no prior criminal record, and had performed important work for the organization he was accused of harming.

“You start with the proposition that Robert Jeffrey, in my opinion the Commonwealth is, he needs to go to jail, so you go back and make up reasons why that ought to happen,” Hill said.

But Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Sheri Mason said Jeffrey had fueled a lavish lifestyle with money he took from the Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization and obtained through a fraudulent application for pandemic relief funds.

“He decided that rather than helping the community and NNEO, he was going to steal money to maintain that lifestyle,” she said.

She said Jeffrey had not taken responsibility or shown remorse for his actions.

Judge David Carson agreed.

“Mr. Jeffrey has accepted no responsibility and shown absolutely no contrition for the egregious breaches of the public trust,” Carson said.

The judge sentenced Jeffrey to serve two and a half years on each of three charges, with the sentences running concurrently.

Jeffrey will also receive credit for the time he has already spent in jail.

Barring a successful appeal, it appears Jeffrey will have just over two years to serve.