Second trial for Roanoke City Councilman Robert Jeffrey Jr. begins for embezzlement

The trial will continue Thursday

ROANOKE, Va. – For the second time this week, Roanoke City Councilman Robert Jeffrey Jr. was on trial for money crimes.

Wednesday, the Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office began their trial against him for two counts of embezzlement. Jeffrey pleaded not guilty.

Tuesday, a jury found him guilty of two felony counts of obtaining money under false pretenses for stealing CARES Act money.

This trial Wednesday focused on the Commonwealth’s allegations that Jeffrey used funds given to him to manage Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization (NNEO) properties to pay for personal expenses (home remodeling, furniture [kitchen tables, refrigerator, bedroom sets], hotel stays, cell phone company payments, meal purchases, etc.).

The NNEO Board sounded the alarm after noticing questionable spending.

The Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization is a non-profit that’s mission is to help those underserved in Northwest Roanoke.

Jeffrey created RLJ Property Management in 2020 when the NNEO was set to name him as the property manager for their two properties, an NNEO Board member testified. He managed McCray Court and Gilmer Housing properties. He had previously completed repairs at these locations and the Board was pleased with his work and trusted he would be a good business partner.

The defense agrees all of the purchases are legitimate but they were approved by NNEO.

The home being remodeled and furnished was for transitional NNEO housing, the defense explained. It would give those needing housing a place to stay until an NNEO unit became available.

The “transition home” is located on Wilmont Avenue in Roanoke. This home is owned by Evangeline Jeffrey, the councilman’s mother who was also a high-ranking NNEO Board member.

Jeffrey attended forums and business meetings that explain the hotel stays, they allege. Food purchases were made when meeting with potential NNEO donors.

An NNEO Board member testified NNEO did not have a transitional housing program pending, even if they did no units (apartment complexes) are furnished and the NNEO Board was unaware of these purchases. This board member went on to testify they were not looking for donors to invest in the non-profit organization.

The contractor who completed work at the “transitional house” testified that majority of his received payment came in checks labeled McCray Court (one of the NNEO properties) and had a memo for Gilmer Housing Association (the second NNEO property). Again, the Board member testified none of this was voted on by them and was done without their knowledge or approval.

Jeffrey had full access to the accounts for the two properties but was to only spend the money necessary for the upkeep of those properties.

The trial will continue Thursday.

About the Author

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.

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