It was October 2013 when a personnel shift in the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office uncovered a troubling situation: A detective involved with asset forfeiture had allegedly embezzled more than $200,000, two sources close to the situation said.
Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman called in the Virginia State Police to investigate. The deputy was placed on administrative leave. In June, the state police asked the FBI to join them in working the case.
But a year after the discovery, no charges have been filed. Officials with the state police, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria all declined to comment Thursday. The state police confirmed that they were working jointly with the FBI, but had no other information about the case’s progress.
Chapman said he was frustrated by the delay, did not know why the case had taken a year to investigate and did not want the cloud of a federal probe continuing to hang over his office. “I would’ve liked this thing to be over a long time ago,” the sheriff, a former federal investigator with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said.
The case is the second local investigation of a law enforcement member to encounter a long delay upon entering the federal system. A Fairfax County police officer’s fatal shooting of John Geer in Springfield in August 2013, shifted to federal authorities in February, also has not been charged or cleared after 14 months.
Chapman said he had undertaken a routine shakeup of the ranks last fall, to allow deputies to work in new roles, when newly assigned investigators uncovered the missing money last October. One source familiar with the investigation said the embezzlement had begun in 2009 under Chapman’s predecessor, former Sheriff Steve Simpson, and involved small amounts withdrawn over time.
Chapman said he asked the state police to investigate because “I wanted to make sure we had an independent investigation, so it wouldn’t just be our eyes on it.” That was begun in mid-October. The Bull Elephant political blog first revealed the investigation in November, and Chapman and state police then confirmed it.
The deputy was initially placed on leave, but Chapman said he resigned in April after an internal investigation. His name has not been released pending a decision on charges. Chapman did not know if the deputy would be eligible to collect retirement benefits from the county.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the family of John Geer said they had heard of no progress in the federal investigation into his slaying. The family filed suit against the Fairfax County police last month, shortly after the one-year anniversary of the Aug. 29, 2013 shooting in Springfield, but have not advanced to the stage where they can seek discovery from the police.
The first pivotal moment in that case will likely come when Fairfax County’s lawyers ask a judge to put the case on hold until the criminal investigation is completed. Geer’s lawyers said they only filed the case because they had gotten no answers from police or prosecutors on why the shooting occurred, and will argue that the civil suit is now the logical avenue for information.