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Phipps pleads guilty to fraud

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Former voter registrar to be sentenced

By LARRY CHAMBERS, Staff
INDEPENDENCE — The former Grayson County voting registrar has pleaded guilty in Grayson County Circuit Court to one count of credit card fraud.
Debra Parks Phipps, 47, of Independence,  is accused of using a county credit card to make unauthorized purchases.
She entered a plea on Jan. 25 before Judge Brett Geisler. Under the rules of the Alford Plea, Phipps does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge.

She was ordered to make restitution of $4,992.28 to the county, and she paid the restitution with a $5,000 check written to the Grayson County treasurer.
Geisler approved a pre-sentencing report to be prepared and ordered Phipps to return to court on March 29 for sentencing.
According to the warrants, the offenses occurred on or about Dec. 6, 2011.
County officials contacted the Virginia State Police in April 2012 and, following a month-long investigation, Virginia State Police Agent James Scott charged Phipps with felony embezzlement of more than $200 and making a false statement to a criminal investigator.
She was arrested on May 8, 2012. A Grayson County Circuit Court grand jury indicted Phipps on July 27, 2012, on one count of felony embezzlement.
 Special Prosecutor Lee Harrell of the Wythe County Commonwealth Attorney’s office is handling the case for the county, after Grayson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Doug Vaught recused himself from the case.
(Vaught is, and Phipps was, a constitutional officer for the county.)
Phipps worked in the registrar’s office for 17 years and served as general registrar for about 14 years before she was terminated from the position.
Phipps is being represented by Hillsville attorney Joseph McGrady.