Former Coeburn town manager indicted

Stephen Igo • Aug 23, 2013 at 2:30 PM

WISE — In two separate indictments handed down by a Wise County grand Jury on Thursday, former Coeburn Town Manager Loretta Mays faces a total of 135 counts accusing her of stealing funds from a Coeburn recreational facility.

Mays was placed on paid administrative leave from the town in February after concerns arose over possible improprieties suspected with accounts related to Lay's Hardware Center for the Arts, a former longtime town business turned into a tourism and recreation facility after it sat empty for many years.

Since then, Coeburn Town Council removed Mays from the post and only recently named a part-time town manager. Mayor Jess Powers served as a part-time town manager until the recent appointment of Drew Mullins to the part-time position.

The Virginia State Police assumed the investigation into the allegations. The VSP is also conducting an investigation into the financial books of the town of Coeburn while Mays was town manager. On Thursday Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Elkins said the separate probe into the town's finances awaits the findings of an audit.

Elkins confirmed the grand jury returned a true bill on the Lay's Hardware matter. Two separate indictments in that case were needed, he said, because the court system's computer setup doesn't handle 135 counts in a single indictment.

The first indictment charges 33 counts of forgery, 33 counts of uttering, 30 counts of felony embezzlement and three counts of misdemeanor embezzlement. A misdemeanor embezzlement is under $200.

The second indictment charges 11 counts of forgery, 11 counts of uttering, 10 counts of felony embezzlement, one count of misdemeanor embezzlement, one count of identity fraud, one count of attempted uttering, and one count of attempted embezzlement.

Elkins explained that "one bad check equals three counts" and authorities believe the total alleged illicit take from Lay's Hardware is in the neighborhood of $30,000.

Once his office gets the indictments back from the grand jury, expected later Thursday afternoon, Elkins said the indictments with warrants will be sent to the VSP for processing and custody procedures.

The investigating state trooper "will either call her to turn herself in or pick her up. It's my guess she will turn herself in," Elkins said. Wise County courts typically reserve Mondays for arraignments, and Elkins guessed that was when Mays was most likely to appear at an arraignment hearing where bond is generally established.

Mays began her tenure as Coeburn town manager in 2006. In late 2012 Town Council changed her status to interim town manager, followed by revelations in February of an investigation under way by the VSP.

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