County accounting practices fall under Virginia State Police investigation

The “accounting practices” of the Rappahannock County government are the focus of a Virginia State Police investigation requested by Rappahannock County Treasurer Debbie Knick.

“At the request of the Rappahannock County Treasurer, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office initiated an investigation in March 2017 into an allegation made concerning the Rappahannock County government’s accounting practices,” State Police public relations director Corinne Geller confirmed to this newspaper this week.

“The investigation remains ongoing at this time. No charges or arrests have been made,” she stated.

Geller’s written statement did not say if it was a specific county official or officials who were under investigation or whether the probe surrounded the county’s accounting practices as a whole.

Knick had no comment when reached by this newspaper yesterday.

Similarly, Rappahannock County Administrator Debbie Keyser would not speak for the record.

Virginia State Police Lt. Col. Gary Settle, a resident of Rappahannock County, heads the department’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI. Reached this week by telephone, he said Maj. Tim Lyon, the deputy director of the BCI, is leading the local investigation.

Apart from State Police duties, Settle chairs the Rappahannock County Planning Commission.

“This investigation is being conducted just like any other criminal investigation conducted by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation,” Gellar stated. “All facets of the allegation will be pursued through interviews, evidentiary collection and analysis, and consultation with the commonwealth’s attorney.”

She added that her department “does not put timelines on an investigation because every case is unique in nature, consequence, and situation. State Police will take as long as is necessary to comprehensively examine the issue.”

Once the investigation is completed, she said, the State Police will “turn its findings over to the commonwealth’s attorney for final review and adjudication.”

Rappahannock County Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said yesterday that he had no comment on the investigation.

Although Virginia state code allows for release of an investigative report, Gellar said her office would not make public any of the report’s contents at this stage of the probe.

“[Releasing the report] would be left up to the commonwealth’s attorney to decide — if he/she wants to release a statement or investigative summary,” Geller explained.

The launch of the investigation followed closely on the heels of Knick’s February 15 letter to the county’s board of supervisors, in which she accused her own county government of mismanagement, including failure to follow proper expense and payroll procedures and lack of oversight of budgeting and spending.

— John McCaslin contributed to this report

About Patty Hardee 283 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.