( 0 Votes )

Lenherr set for jury trial

Fluvanna County Treasurer Linda H. Lenherr entered a plea of “not guilty” to a misdemeanor charge of using confidential information for economic gain at a hearing in Fluvanna County Circuit Court on Thursday (March 30). 

Lenherr’s attorney requested a jury trial rather than a bench trial, in which the determination of her guilt would be made solely by a judge. The trial is set for Aug. 10.

He entered a motion to quash the Commonwealth Attorney’s written complaint, called an “information,” because it lacked specific language he argued was required by statute. 

He called this omission “a fatal flaw.”

While Special Prosecutor Ray B. Fitzgerald acknowledged the information did not include the phrase “verified by the oath of a competent witness,” he argued the “remedy is not to derail the prosecution,” but to fix any technical or procedural flaws in an amended document.  

Substitute Judge Margaret Spencer, of Richmond, denied the motion to quash the information and “out of an abundance of caution” ordered the Commonwealth to amend the document include the missing language.

Defense withdrew a motion to move the proceedings from Circuit Court to General District Court and waived a reading of the information before Lenherr entered her plea. 

Lenherr, who has served as county treasurer for 33 years, was charged in February with using her position for personal gain in a 2015 land sale.

The prosecution alleges that Lenherr held private email conversations with an attorney appointed to collect delinquent real estate taxes for the county. They say the emails show she encouraged Anthony Paone II, of Glen Allen, to sell two properties at the lowest possible price the court would accept. Those properties were then sold at auction to MCL Construction for a total of $13,000. MCL Construction is owned by Lenherr’s son, Michael Lenherr.  

The sale cost Fluvanna County $33,240 in uncollected taxes, fees and interest. 

Lenherr remains free on bond until trial and was granted permission to leave the state for a family vacation in July.

If convicted, Lenherr faces up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.