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The former CEO of the now-closed Independence Homes LLC has been indicted by a Grayson County Circuit Court grand jury on embezzlement and money laundering charges.
Joe B. Weddington, 63, of Crumpler, N.C., was indicted for the following charges:
• one count of embezzlement of more than $200 but less than $11,500 from Independence Homes on or about Nov. 5, 2010
• one count of embezzlement of more than $200 but less than $2,000 from Independence Homes on or about Dec. 6, 2010
• one count of embezzlement of more than $200 from Independence Homes between Dec. 7, 2010 and May 7, 2011
• one count of money laundering.
Plans were announced last December for Independence Homes LLC to begin operation to build park-model homes in the former Kayser-Roth building on Rainbow Circle in Independence.
According to the initial announcement, Independence Homes would invest $1 million to begin manufacturing operations and create 42 new jobs.
The project was a joint effort of the Independence IDA, the Grayson County IDA and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to secure the project for Independence.
The Virginia Tobacco Commission approved $75,000 to assist Grayson County with the project. Grayson County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said the county only disbursed $25,000 of the tobacco money because the performance agreement hadn’t been met regarding the number of employees that were hired.
Sweet said that, since the business closed, the county would have to repay the $25,000.
Another $125,000 was received from the Independence IDA in a low-interest loan and business planning assistance was provided through the SBDC.
The Virginia Department of Business Assistance had agreed to provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment and training activities through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Larry Bolt, chairman of the Independence IDA, said Independence Homes had received the $125,000 loan.
Weddington was also charged on Feb. 16 with six counts of embezzlement in Ashe County, N.C.
Lt. William Sands of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Department said Weddington was arrested after a month-long investigation. Sands said the arrest was the result of $15,406.55 that Weddington allegedly converted to his own use.
Reportedly, Weddington and two other partners were involved with a development known as Appalachian Mint LLC.
According to earlier stories, Weddington was also the managing member of “Spirit Harbor,” a proposed Christian seniors’ recreation park on a 148-acre site in Mouth of Wilson.
Weddington is scheduled to appear in Ashe County Superior Court on Oct. 3 to face the six embezzlement charges.
Weddington appeared in Grayson County Circuit Court Aug. 18 for appointment of counsel. He told the court that he would represent himself.
Weddington, who was arrested Aug. 2, is free after posting a $10,000 unsecured bond.
His next court appearance is set for Sept. 16.
An indictment indicates that a grand jury found sufficient evidence for a case to go to trial, and does not indicate guilt.
All of those indicted are innocent until proven guilty.