A veteran Prince William County police officer who was under investigation for allegedly embezzling money from a nonprofit association of law enforcement officers will not be criminally charged, a special prosecutor said yesterday.
Chesterfield County Commonwealth's Attorney William W. Davenport was appointed in late spring to investigate whether 1st Sgt. Ronald McClelland used funds from the Woodbridge-based Virginia Homicide Investigators Association for personal use while serving as its treasurer.
Davenport said yesterday that he has decided not to send the case to a grand jury. He said his office sent a letter yesterday to a Prince William judge formally ending the investigation. Davenport declined to discuss his investigation but cited "a fundamental fairness" as the primary reason for closing it.
"You have just as much of a duty to not go forward as you do to go forward when you are seeking justice," Davenport said. "We talked to investigators; we went through every report, every statement. . . . It's fairness in all corners."
McClelland, 44, declined to comment, saying he wanted to wait until he received word from authorities that the investigation was over.
Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the allegation because his office has worked closely with McClelland on previous cases. Local prosecutors routinely recuse themselves from investigating government officials to eliminate conflicts of interest, particularly when a case involves a longtime official.
McClelland, who is retiring Sunday after 25 years with the department, served as treasurer of the homicide association until the spring when the allegations of wrongdoing led the association's board members to remove him. Association officials discovered "discrepancies in the finances" in April and alleged that McClelland had made some "unauthorized purchases" for his own use before paying the money back, according to 1st Sgt. Richard Cantarella, a police detective and the association's president.
The decision by the special prosecutor, first reported by the Northern Virginia Journal, seemed reasonable to the association, Cantarella said.
"We're okay with whatever decision they make; we were ready to cooperate either way," said Cantarella. "I guess everything was paid back. We're not out any money. . . . It was an unfortunate incident."
The homicide investigators association, which has a membership of nearly 500 detectives, prosecutors, and other crime analysts, was founded in 1993 by a small group of police investigators including McClelland. The organization conducts training seminars throughout the year and holds an annual October conference in Williamsburg that draws law enforcement officials from across the country. In 1996, McClelland won the association's Homicide Investigator of the Year award, Cantarella said.
McClelland joined the police department in November 1978 as a dispatcher before becoming a violent crimes detective and then a first sergeant in the internal affairs division, which investigates allegations of wrongdoing by fellow officers.