Thursday, March 23, 2023

City Planning Commission Chairman Won’t Be Prosecuted for Embezzlement

The Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse. (Staff Photo)
The Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse. (Staff Photo)

Nearly three years after Courthouse Construction Inc. accused the Williamsburg Planning Commission Chairman and a contractor of stealing materials from a construction site, both men will not face trial.

Special Prosecutor Matthew Kite, the commonwealth’s attorney for King William County, issued a motion not to prosecute both Planning Commission Chairman Demetrios Florakis and contractor James Jenkins in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court on Friday.

Judge Michael McGinty accepted the nolle prosequi motions.

Florakis and Jenkins had been charged with felony embezzlement and grand larceny, respectively.

“The Commonwealth doesn’t think we can prove a case without a reasonable doubt,” Kite said.

Kite would not elaborate on why it took more than 16 months to come to that conclusion since he took over the case in December 2014. When asked after Friday’s hearing whether he was prepared to go to trial in December 2015 before Florakis’ defense attorney, Tommy Norment, asked for a continuance, Kite said he could not recall his thinking at the time.

Florakis and Jenkins were directly indicted in January 2014, about nine months after Courthouse Construction Inc. filed a complaint with the Williamsburg Police Department.

Court documents show Florakis, a developer who owns several properties throughout the city, had partnered with CCI on the City Lofts project that converted a Quality Inn on Richmond Road into one-bedroom apartments for students. CCI accused Florakis of using construction materials from their partnership on a construction project at a Florakis-owned apartment, the Vernon Geddy House on Scotland Street, not associated with CCI.

Police said the materials had been taken by Jenkins, who initially told police he had receipts to prove he bought the materials for the Scotland Street property. When he showed police a receipt from May 25, police informed him he would need to show a receipt from before April 28 – the date CCI reported seeing the materials at the Vernon Geddy House.

Further investigation determined Jenkins returned the City Loft construction materials to Lowe’s on May 22, then repurchased them at a significant discount May 25. Jenkins told police in August he was authorized to remove the materials from City Lofts and dispose of them as he wished.

The court proceedings for both Florakis and Jenkins have been delayed several times for varying reasons, ranging from prep time for the attorneys to twice appointing a special prosecutor amid accusations of potential bias.

Florakis’ trial had been scheduled and then continued three times.

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