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Embezzlement case to go forward

May 31, 2007

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County magistrate found probable cause Thursday to send forward an embezzlement charge against the former director of the Berkeley County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Assistant Prosecutor Richard Stephens said the case against Jonathon A. Jarrell of Martinsburg likely would be presented to the grand jury when it convenes in October.

Jarrell appeared Thursday before Magistrate Sandra L. Miller for a preliminary hearing. He opted to go on with the hearing although he did not have an attorney. Jarrell had sought twice to have a public defender appointed to represent him, and both applications were denied.

West Virginia State Police Trooper J.M. Walker testified that the Red Cross chapter contacted him, asking for an investigation into financial irregularities. His investigation revealed that Jarrell had received extra paychecks in 2004 and 2005, and that there were discrepancies in the reported revenues of special events - including gift-wrapping activities for several holidays from 2004 to 2006, he said.

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Walker said credit card statements also showed Jarrell received cash advances on the chapter's account, but added that Jarrell had told him two of those were for business expenses, and the others had resulted from mistakenly using the wrong credit card.

He said Jarrell told him that he had gotten advance paychecks intending to decline later checks, and that Jarrell had repaid some of the money. But Walker alleged that Jarrell told him that when an audit didn't detect the missing money, Jarrell no longer believed he would be caught.

Walker alleged that Jarrell sought to hide the discrepancies by reclassifying general contributions to the special events accounts.

No other witnesses were presented.

Other than asking Walker for clarification on their conversation regarding the credit card cash advances, Jarrell offered no defense.

Jarrell is accused of taking more than $16,000 from the Red Cross chapter, Walker said.

- Tamela Baker

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