Hubbards file defamation lawsuit

From Leesburg Today

March 16, 2012

Five months after being acquitted of felony fraud charges, Middleburg businesswoman and newspaper editor Deanne “Dee Dee” Hubbard and members of her family have filed a multi-million dollar civil suit against her chief accuser.

Hubbard was arrested Nov. 30, 2010, on 14 counts of felony embezzlement related to her work as a property manager with responsibility to collect rents for Jack J. Goehring, who owns several Middleburg area properties. The charges, filed following a Virginia State Police investigation, stemmed from some rent checks being deposited into accounts controlled by Hubbard, rather than in Goehring’s accounts. During the November trial in the case, the deposits were characterized by Hubbard as mistakes, by her and her bank, rather than intentional misappropriation of funds. The jury agreed, returning not guilty verdicts on all charges in the case.

In the months leading up to the trial, Goehring sent numerous emails to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office urging more charges and forceful prosecution. Those emails became public during the case and form much of the basis for the Hubbards’ lawsuit charging malicious prosecution and defamation. In addition to Hubbard, complainants include her son and daughter-in-law Jay and Megan Hubbard, and her daughter and son-in-law Lisa and Thomas Patterson. Goehring’s wife Mary Kirk Goehring also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The suit asks for malicious prosecution damages of $500,000 for DeeDee Hubbard and defamatory damages of $500,000 for each of the five plaintiffs. The suit also seeks for punitive damages as allowable by law on both counts.

This week, Hubbard said of the decision to file suit, “I feel we had no choice; it was obvious. Malicious prosecution is no fun and if we don’t take action, it sets a precedent.”

The suit recounts the history of the relationship between Hubbard and Goehring in which, from 2000 to 2011, she was property manager for companies owned in part by the Goehrings. As such, Hubbard collected rent checks relating to various rental properties.

Goehring claimed Hubbard stole specific rent checks and deposited them into her own accounts. The rent checks were collected by Hubbard and deposited in the wrong accounts at Middleburg Bank, including those belonging to her own businesses. Hubbard maintained they were mistakes and that she had paid back all the money that was owed after the mistakes were discovered. The incorrectly marked deposits also were missed by a bank teller and the bank offered to provide full restitution.

At the same time, Hubbard and her daughter Lisa Patterson were tenants in a commercial building on Federal Street owned by the Goehrings; Hubbard for the offices of Middleburg Online and Middleburg Eccentric, and Patterson for premises where she operated her Mello Out restaurant.

Hubbard also was a tenant of the Goehrings, along with her son and daughter-in-law, in a residence just west of town in Fauquier Country.

The suit points to a number of instances in which it claims Jack Goehring falsely and maliciously accused the plaintiffs or defamed them, starting June 17, 2010, when he filed an ID Theft Affidavit with the Middleburg Bank accusing the plaintiffs of identity theft, as well as embezzlement and/or bank fraud.

The lawsuit claims a series of false and defamatory statements made by Goehring to the Middleburg Police and the Virginia State Police were used to secure the felony charges in November 2010. The suit claims that Goehring was tipped off by then-Middleburg Police Chief Steve Webber as to the date and time of the arrest, that he arranged for a friend who was a photographer to take photographs of the arrest, and subsequently helped her sell the photographs to the Loudoun Times-Mirror, where they appeared on the front page. Those actions, the suit claims, were part of the Goehrings’ scheme to humiliate and defame the entire Hubbard family and to damage Dee Dee Hubbard.

While Hubbard was awaiting trial, the suit alleges the Goehrings met with Special Agent Robert Mrak of the Virginia State Police, informing him they wanted to add a fraud component to the criminal charges so they could seek “over $100,000 in back rent from the Hubbards even though no back rent was due and owing.” An email confirming that conversation was sent to the assistant commonwealth’s attorney handling the Hubbard criminal case.

In April 2010, Goehring wrote to Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Stephen Sincavage, Webber and Mrak, accusing Hubbard of embezzling from the Middleburg Christmas Parade. In the same email, the suit claims, Goehring accused Patterson of collusion with her mother and being “a criminal accomplice” of the embezzlement.

In May 2010, Goehring wrote Sincavage, accusing Hubbard of fraud against him and his wife, saying she “stole every way she could and picked us clean.” In another email he accused the entire Hubbard family of a “massive and complex fraud.” May 22 of that year, the suit alleged Goehring wrote Sincavage, repeating his charge of theft against Hubbard, accusing her of stealing $143,000 from his accounts.

Before the start of the Nov. 7 trial, Goehring wrote Sincavage, accusing Hubbard of forgery for signing his name, without authority, on 178 checks. He also accused Hubbard’s son of forgery. The following day, the jury acquitted Hubbard of all the embezzlement charges.

Hubbard and her family members have since somewhat distanced themselves from Goehring. While Hubbard and her son and daughter-in-law still live in Goehring’s house, Hubbard and Patterson have moved their businesses out of his building. Patterson has closed her Mello Out business, a popular small restaurant, known for its trademark hot chocolate and marshmallow drinks.

“I’ve been here seven years. It was a hard decision,” Patterson said, noting that customers have said they were sad to see her close. While she did not completely rule out a resumption of business one day, she said, “It’s best to take a break.”

No court dates have been set for the civil case.

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