Clarke County Commonwealth Attorney Suni Perka says that financial irregularities that resulted in a financial audit and Virginia State Police investigation of the Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department (SFVFD) won’t result in charges but action is still possible related to other crimes committed at the department.
Perka said that she was assisted by the Virginia State Police in determining if certain concerns highlighted in the audit were criminal or rather simply reflected inadequate operational practices.
“Some of the concerns outlined in the audit were as follows,” Perka said. “At one time there were approximately 14 debit cards in use and shared; alterations made to the SFVFD “Quickbooks”;
there were estimated to be 12 to 14 master keys; checks written for “Cash;” and receipts were missing.”
Perka noted that SFVFD is a volunteer organization and, as such, does not have a professional staff maintaining its books.
“With this in mind, irregularities in an audit do not necessarily mean there is criminal activity,” Perka said. “The concerns outlined in the audit are, in my view and the State Police, a reflection of the casual manner in which the accounting was handled, and certainly, with that kind of atmosphere, proving any criminal activity such as embezzlement is extremely difficult with so many people having access to money.”
“After review of this matter, I have concluded, that to avoid the appearance of impropriety and to safeguard their property SFVFD should take appropriate measures to improve its accounting and operational practices, but that no criminal charges would result from this audit,” Perka said
The Clarke County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the theft of cash and gasoline from SFVFD. Charges stemming from those criminal investigations are still possible.