Embezzlement or simple mistakes? Hubbard trial under way.

From Leesburg Today

Nov. 7, 2011

In remarks opening the criminal trial of Middleburg Eccentric editor and co-owner Deanna “Dee Dee” Hubbard, opposing attorneys today presented starkly different views of the case–differences that were not clarified by the end of today’s hearing before Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James H. Chamblin.

More witnesses are scheduled to testify tomorrow.

Hubbard was charged Nov. 30, 2010, with 15 counts of felony embezzlement. She is accused of embezzling money from property owner Jack Goehring, who had hired her for more than 20 years as his property manager and, since 2007, as his bookkeeper for several rental properties owned by his Piedmont Standards Corporation. She was accused of having deposited rent checks, payable to Piedmont Standards, into accounts belonging to Middleburg Eccentric and her company Middleburg Online, which she founded.

Today, the charges were consolidated to six counts relating to deposits made to Middleburg Bank on six occasions between September 2008 and December 2009.

Hubbard pleaded not guilty on all six charges.

After selection of 12 jurors and two alternates, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephen Sincavage noted the financial problems appeared to have arisen after Goehring parted amicably from his former business partner John Bennison. The two men had been in a property partnership for more than 20 years and both had employed Hubbard as their property manager.

Both men testified today that they had known Hubbard for more than 20 years and valued her role as their property manager. But it was after their partnership ceased and the two divided their assets, that Goehring assigned Hubbard the additional role of bookkeeper. Previously, Bennison had kept the books for the joint company and written the company’s checks. Hubbard had collected the rent checks and faxed him a copy of the deposit slips, but he had exercised financial oversight and control.

After 2007, Hubbard both collected and deposited the checks for Goehring, who testified he exercised only “minimal” oversight. Sincavage said each of the six deposits included rent checks payable to Goehring’s company, but deposited into accounts for the Middleburg Eccentric or Middleburg Online.

No one else was responsible for handling rent checks for Piedmont Standards, Sincavage said. “She had responsibility and at no point in time did she say she had made a mistake.” That didn’t happen until after the problems were discovered, he said, noting that it was then that she took action to make repayments.

The bank records “tell the story and the witnesses. Keep your eyes and ears open and consider all the evidence,” Sincavage told jurors.

But Hubbard’s attorney Edward MacMahon painted a different scenario. “There are two sides to every story and it’s my job to tell you what that story is,” he said, noting his client is a 67-year-old grandmother, divorced, with three children, a businesswoman and journalist, and co-organizer of the Middleburg Christmas Parade.

An accountant Hubbard is not, MacMahon acknowledged.

“Her office is a mess, with deposit slips all over the place,” he said.

He agreed that all of the checks were written to Piedmont Standards, and endorsed, but “there is no evidence she embezzled any of those checks,” or had any intention to embezzle, MacMahon said.

Jurors will decide whether the deposits were part of an embezzlement scheme or simple mistakes that were rectified the moment Hubbard discovered them as she had more than paid back all the wrongly deposited checks.

Describing Goehring “obsessed” with the whole Hubbard family, MacMahon also accused him of being in collusion with the Middleburg police, who never ever wanted to hear Hubbard’s side of the story before they arrested her in an unusually public fashion. “Goehring called the photographer to be there; he knew, and the police lured her there, handcuffed her and took her outside” where the photographer took pictures of Hubbard being led away and then tried to sell the photographs “to humiliate her.”

MacMahon said Goehring also had repeatedly written to Sincavage asking him to bring further charges and also against her family, noting “they are her most vulnerable assets,” so she would plead guilty.

Testimony is scheduled to continue tomorrow morning.

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