The public defender of Loudoun County, Lorie E. O’Donnell, was arrested last month in Winchester for allegedly stealing a can of Red Bull energy drink from a grocery, according to the Frederick County sheriff’s office. O’Donnell, 46, was issued a summons and released, but a Frederick sheriff’s deputy also took her driver’s license after determining it had been suspended.
O’Donnell did not respond to a phone message and e-mails seeking comment. She has overseen the public defenders, a taxpayer supported office, in the criminal courts in Loudoun, Fauquier and Rappahannock since at least 1998 and also handles cases herself.
David Johnson, executive director of the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, said O’Donnell remained the public defender for the 20th Circuit pending the outcome of the case, but that he could not discuss it further. A Winchester lawyer listed in court records as O’Donnell’s counsel did not return calls. She was not assigned a public defender.
An incident report filed by a Frederick County sheriff’s deputy indicates that O’Donnell had been caught stealing from the same store once before, a Martin’s on Gateway Drive, but was not charged.
The deputy was summoned shortly before 11 a.m. on Friday, March 2 by the store’s security officer. The officer told the deputy she had watched a woman select several items from the store’s shelves, place them in her cart, and then place a can of Red Bull beside her purse, and then inside her purse. The officer reported she watched the woman through the checkout process, and she did not attempt to pay for the drink.
The security officer, Christine McCombs, told Deputy P.A. Saville that “she had caught the female taking items once before but never had her charged.”
Saville spoke to O’Donnell, who reportedly said that “she knows what she did is wrong and said that she has a problem and is going to seek professional help.” Saville added that, “Lorie explained to me that she has plenty of money and could have paid for the drink.”
The can of Red Bull was priced at $2.59. A court date was set for
April 16 June 19. A first-time shoplifter would be unlikely to receive anything more than a fine, but she could suffer some repercussions from the Virginia Bar and in her post as supervisor of the public defenders in three counties.
Saville checked O’Donnell’s criminal history and found none, but found that her driver’s license was suspended. A check of local court records shows that O’Donnell has received at least four traffic tickets in the last five years, two for speeding and two for failing to obey a sign. She declined to pre-pay any of them, did not show up in court for any of them, was found guilty in absentia on all of them, and paid the fines after each conviction. She was also charged with driving on a suspended license in 2006, but the charge was dismissed.