- Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 18:17
- Published on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 18:17
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Barbara Worrell, former Chief Financial Officer of Colonial Beach Schools and former acting superintendent (Aug. 2, 2008, through May 27, 2009), was arraigned in General District Court of Westmoreland County yesterday morning, Tuesday, March 16. Worrell was arraigned on 13 felony counts of embezzlement.
Judge Gordon A. Wilkins presided over the court. Nine arraignments were held, with three of those defendants transported to the courthouse from Northern Neck Regional Jail. Because Worrell had been denied bond after her arrest on Monday evening, sheriff’s deputies led her into the courtroom. Worrell wore a jail-issued black and white jumpsuit with a bright orange oversized issued jacket and ankle shackles. She appeared visibly shaken. Upon her entry into the courtroom, family members in attendance quietly sobbed.
Judge Wilkins summarized the 13 felony counts of embezzlements and asked if she would be represented by counsel. Worrell faltered and Judge Wilkins allowed her brother, James Marks, to speak on her behalf. Marks informed the court that the family had retained Mark Gardner to represent Worrell, but that he was not available that morning. Because Gardner was not available and not yet her attorney of record, Judge Wilkins, after conferring with Commonwealth’s Attorney Dean Atkins, set a preliminary date of March 24 at 2 p.m. for a preliminary hearing. He further noted that as bond had been denied immediately after her arrest, she could now proceed on her own or wait for Gardner to request a new bond hearing. Judge Wilkins then ordered court personnel to hold Worrell at the courthouse with the expectation that Gardner would appear and request the bond hearing.
Worrell has been charged with 13 counts of “wrongfully and fraudulently use, dispose of, conceal or embezzle cash belonging to Colonial Beach Public Schools and having a value of $200 or more, which the accused received for another, or which the accused received by virtue of the accused’s office, trust or employment, or which a court, corporation, company or another person entrusted or delivered to the accused.” The time frames for the 13 felony charges are Feb. 25, 2008, to March 10, 2008; March 25, 2008, to April 10, 2008; April 25, 2008, to May 10, 2008; May 25, 2008, to June 10, 2008; June 25, 2008, to July 10, 2008; Aug. 24, 2008, to Sep. 10, 2008; Sept. 25, 2008, to Oct. 10, 2008; Oct. 25, 2008, to Nov. 10, 2008; Nov. 25, 2008, to Dec. 10, 2008; Dec. 25, 2008, to Jan. 10, 2009; Jan. 25, 2009, to Feb. 10, 2009; Feb. 25, 2009, to March 10, 2009; and March 25, 2009, to April 10, 2009.
Each count is listed as a Class U Felony under VA Code LAR-2707-F9. Class U felonies in Virginia are “Unclassified” felonies, with usually less than 20-year sentences. Special Agent Belinda Glover, Virginia State Police, signed each count on March 15 at approximately 3:41 p.m.
Worrell was arrested in Westmoreland County Monday evening, March 15, at approximately 6:30 p.m. Worrell was arrested at her son’s home in Shellfield Shores in Westmoreland County by Sergeant James C. Wells of the Colonial Beach Police Department. Bail was denied and she was transported to the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw.
The charges stem from an investigation originally initiated by Tim Trivett, current chairman of the School Board, after accounting irregularities came to light during an audit of town finances performed by Nancy Miller, a Fredericksburg accountant. The audit showed “significant deficiencies” primarily found in school financial records. Worrell was placed on administrative leave in May 2009 after the Westmoreland Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced a second investigation of school finances by the Virginia State Police.
Colonial Beach schools have been found to owe the town more than $600,000 in budget deficits throughout Worrell’s tenure as both Financial Director and acting superintendent.
~ Kathy Flanagan