Friday, June 08, 2012

Ex-Bedford Co. supervisor jailed on embezzlement charges

Embezzlement charges against Tony Ware appear unrelated to his term on the board of supervisors.

Virginia State Police investigators Thursday arrested a Big Island man who once served on the Bedford County Board of Supervisors and charged him with seven counts of embezzlement and seven counts of money laundering.

Earl Anthony "Tony" Ware, 66, was jailed Thursday in lieu of a $20,000 bond, police reported.

Ware served on the county's board of supervisors for more than two decades. His first meeting was in January 1980. He ultimately lost the seat in November 2004 to current supervisor Steve Arrington.

State police said the charges stemmed from Ware's connection to the Big Island Volunteer Fire Department and to the estate of Hattie Routon.

Joel Branscom, commonwealth's attorney for Botetourt County, has been appointed as special prosecutor for the case. He said Ware had served as treasurer for the Big Island fire department and had been a co-executor of Routon's estate.

The investigation of Ware, conducted by the state police's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, has been ongoing since December 2011, police said.

Branscom said the investigation continues and that there is no firm estimate yet of how much money Ware allegedly embezzled. But he said the total is likely to reach six figures.

In 2009, Bedford County endured a case of embezzlement estimated by authorities to have involved at least $150,000 over six years by Jeffrey Shifflett, a former "chief-for-life" of the Hardy Volunteer Fire Co. Shifflett was indicted July 7, 2009, but shot and killed himself one day later.

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