Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
The group's former treasurer is accused of taking more than $700,000. The judge has not yet ruled on his guilt.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Attorney Fred Kellerman (left) talks with client Eugene Todd Mills in court in Christiansburg on Monday. Mills entered Alford pleas to charges of stealing money.
Eugene Todd Mills
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
CHRISTIANSBURG — A former treasurer of the Virginia FFA Foundation entered Alford pleas Monday to charges of stealing more than $700,000 from the organization.
The judge will not accept Eugene Todd Mills’ pleas to nine counts of embezzlement or make a ruling on his guilt until a pre-sentence report is completed.
In entering Alford pleas, Mills, 41, of Christiansburg agrees that sufficient evidence exists to find him guilty but maintains his innocence. When asked if he was entering the pleas because he was, in fact, guilty of all charges, Mills said no.
According to a search warrant filed in Montgomery County court in October, Mills, who had served as the foundation’s volunteer treasurer, admitted to state police that he took $722,849 from foundation accounts without authorization and placed the money in a personal account for his Christiansburg business, Mills & Son.
Mills wrote approximately 162 checks against foundation bank accounts between March 14, 2006, and May 29, 2012, according to the warrant.
The Virginia FFA Association — formerly known as the Virginia Future Farmers of America — is a youth leadership organization that provides programs and experience to students interested in agriculture education. The Virginia FFA Foundation is a separate nonprofit, with a separate governing body, from the Virginia FFA. The organization’s foundation collects money from businesses, organizations and individuals, and those funds support FFA activities. The association has an office on West Campus Drive in Blacksburg, but the foundation operates out of a post office box in Christiansburg.
The warrant stated that Virginia FFA officials noticed a discrepancy in foundation funds while looking at their finances for upcoming activities. Of more than $2 million known to have been deposited in certain foundation accounts, only $1.2 million remained, according to the warrant.
Mills was the only person authorized to write checks from the foundation’s Wells Fargo account, the warrant stated.
According to a summary of the evidence Monday by county Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Stephens, Virginia FFA officials confronted Mills about the missing money in August 2012. Mills said he had moved the money into an Edward Jones account because he was concerned about the security of the account at Wells Fargo, Stephens said.
Mills told the FFA officials that over time, he had used money from his personal business — Mills & Son — to pay for the foundation’s debts, Stephens said. When asked to do so, Mills said he had no problem transferring the Edward Jones account money into another account, but he told FFA officials that a portion of that money was owed to Mills & Son since he had used funds from his business to support the foundation, Stephens said.
Mills said a former foundation member had told him to “do what he had to do to keep the foundation running,” Stephens said.
Mills did not immediately transfer the funds but told FFA officials that he did business at the Edward Jones office in Radford and provided them with a contact number, Stephens said. The FFA officials soon discovered that the Edward Jones office in Radford had been closed for six months and that the number Mills provided was constantly busy.
At that point, Stephens said, the Virginia FFA contacted the state police and removed Mills from his position as treasurer.
Throughout the investigation, it was discovered that Mills wrote a series of checks to his business and that Mills & Son’s income was heavily supported by those checks, Stephens said.
According to business advertisements, Mills & Son is a licensed and insured home improvement and remodeling business.
Mills was originally scheduled to have a three-day jury trial that would have begun Monday. Mills’ lawyer, Fred Kellerman, told Circuit Court Judge Bobby Turk that he would agree that Stephens’ summary would have been the prosecution’s evidence if the case had gone to trial.
In an emailed statement on Monday, the foundation’s board of directors stated that the board will continue to work with the commonwealth’s attorney’s office and the state police during the sentencing phase of the case.
“There are no anticipated disruptions to sponsored FFA activities or award programs,” the statement said. “All of our current supporters can feel confident that resources donated to support agricultural education programs will reach intended recipients.”
Mark Anderson, who acts as legal counsel for the Virginia FFA Foundation, said in January that the funds used for day-to-day operations were never compromised.
Mills faces up to 180 years in prison on the nine charges. He has not entered into an agreement with the prosecution concerning his sentencing. He will remain out on bond until a Dec. 17 hearing, at which point the pre-sentence report is scheduled to be completed.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us