William E. (Buddy) Embrey, the small-town Virginia banker who admitted misappropriating almost $400,000, was sentenced in federal court yesterday to six months in prison and fined $5,000.
Embrey, 39, who was removed last year as president of the State Bank of Remington, Va., will serve the federal prison sentence after he finishes a 12-month work-release term based in the Fauquier County Jail. He received the work-release sentence last month from a state circuit court and is allowed to spend several hours each day at his home, where he runs an insurance and real estate business.
Embrey admitted that he financed some real estate ventures by forging bank customers' names on loan documents totaling $360,000. He also admitted taking an additional $36,000 in public funds while he served as Remington's treasurer.
Embrey has paid back all the money, according to his attorney.
Embrey could have been sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison plus $10,000 in fines by the federal and state courts.
In federal court, where U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. handed down the sentence of six months and $5,000, more than 100 letters in support of Embrey were received before his final court appearance. The letter's were from residents of Remington, a town of 350 people about 75 miles southwest of Washington.
In addition to heading the bank and being the town treasurer, Embrey was chairman of the county Democratic Party before his misappropriations were discovered. He is still held in high esteem.
"I'm deeply sorry for everything," Embrey said in court yesterday. "I made some very serious errors of judgement . . . judgement . . . for that I'll be punished for the rest of my life."
Embrey's total sentence "on its face appears light," said Fauquier chief prosecutor Charles Foley. But, Foley said, the sentence is fair in light of the public disgrace Embrey and his family have had to endure. "I've seen them get 10 years for stealing $150," Foley said, but those cases involved violent criminals who used guns in the commission of their crimes. "Nobody was looking at the barrel of a .38 in this case," Foley said.
Embrey was convicted in state court of forging his father's signature on a $27,000 loan and of misappropriating $36,000 in public funds from the town of Remington.
In sentencing Embrey, Fauquier Circuit Court Judge Carleton Penn noted that the state prosecutor was "quite lenient" because Embrey could have been charged with more than the two offenses brought against him.
In federal court yesterday, where the charges were two counts of embezzling a total of $110,000, Judge Bryan rejected a plea by Embrey's attorney that Embrey be given no more time in prison.
"When a president of a bank makes these kinds of mistakes . . . incarceration, in my view, is warranted," Bryan said.