ROANOKE, Va. – A judge convicted a Roanoke City Councilman of embezzlement on Thursday afternoon.
On day two of Robert Jeffrey Jr.’s trial on two counts of embezzlement, he changed his plea from “not guilty” to “no contest.”
After accepting that plea, the judge found Jeffrey guilty.
Jeffrey originally faced two embezzlement charges; however, the second charge was dropped.
Expenses included lawn care at Jeffrey’s personal home and renovations and appliances for his mother’s property. But Asst. Commonwealth’s Attorney Sheri Mason said Jeffrey stole much more money: over $100,000 in total.
“The largest thing was cash withdrawals. And so it’s anybody’s guess what he did with the money he was taking out of the bank,” said Mason.
Keith Jordan, a character witness who was set to testify on Jeffrey’s behalf, said he’s surprised by what came out in court.
“I feel for him, but I have no other thoughts,” said Jordan. “I guess I’m still in shock.”
After the hearing, 10 News spoke with members of the nonprofit that Jeffrey embezzled from, Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization (NNEO).
They said they feel justice was served and they can begin healing.
“We trusted someone that was in our family and we trusted them and they took our trust for granted,” said Brenda Powell, the assistant secretary for NNEO. “And now the community can see we were not being vindictive. He actually did much more than what was brought out in court. But we’re glad that it has come to an end. Now we can move on.”
Roanoke City Attorney Timothy Spencer told 10 News on Thursday afternoon that because Jeffrey waived his right to appeal, according to state law, he has forfeited his seat on the Roanoke City Council.
Below is the full statement from Spencer:
"This afternoon former Council Member Robert Jeffrey pleaded guilty to a felony and waived his right to appeal. The court has accepted his plea agreement and found him guilty of this felony. Since Mr. Jeffrey waived his right to appeal as part of his plea agreement, all rights of appeal under Virginia law have expired. Therefore, in accordance with Virginia Code Section 24.2-231, Mr. Jeffrey has forfeited his seat on City Council. City Council will meet in closed session to consider its legal options in filling the vacancy on Council."Timothy Spencer, Roanoke City Attorney
On Wednesday, the trial 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.).
Sentencing in this case is scheduled for June 7 at 1:30 p.m.
Coming into this trial, Jeffrey was already a convicted felon because on Tuesday, Jeffrey was found guilty of two counts of obtaining money under false pretenses of more than $1,000 from CARES Act money.
Below is our coverage from day one of Jeffrey’s embezzlement trial: