Rooftop workers indicted

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By April Wright, Reporter


After a month-long investigation, two Rooftop of Virginia workers were each indicted on three counts of embezzlement on Tuesday morning, according to Virginia State Police Special Agent Heather Brown of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Rooftop of Virginia is a private, non-profit agency supported by federal, state and local funds and is designed to provide assistance and services to low-income citizens of Galax and the Twin Counties.
According to documents from Grayson County Circuit Court, investigators believe Sharon Nichols, human resources manager; and Christina Bedsaul, executive director; committed embezzlement during three different timeframes.
In the case against Nichols, the alleged embezzlement occurred between Jan. 1 and Oct. 14 of this year; July 1-Dec. 31, 2010; and Jan. 1-June 30, 2007.
Bedsaul allegedly committed embezzlement between Jan. 1-Oct. 14 of this year; Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2008; and Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2007.
Nichols and Chris Bedsaul, both long-time employees of Rooftop, “did unlawfully and feloniously, knowingly and intentionally embezzle money valued at more than $200 from Rooftop of Virginia...” the documents say.
An exact figure was not given in the court papers.
On Sept. 30, Virginia State Police began investigating the financial records at Rooftop of Virginia. They seized documents, files and computers from the Rooftop offices on North Main Street in downtown Galax.
Bedsaul and Nichols were suspended with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Roger Halsey, of the Rooftop of Virginia Board of Directors, said Bedsaul and Nichols are still on the payroll. However, the board was expected to meet on Thursday to discuss how these matters should be handled, regarding the pay to Nichols and Bedsaul.
The board members were told of the indictments on Tuesday morning.
State police were made aware about possible embezzlement through an unidentified informant, who told police that money was being misused, according to warrants on file in Grayson County court.
Funds were believed to have been used for travel and advances to employees.
According to court documents, the informing witness had access to information disclosed to state police about the misuse of funds and was able to provide documentation of an airplane ticket that was allegedly purchased using Rooftop funds and was later reimbursed to Rooftop by Bedsaul.
“The witness stated that the money repaid was for Ms. Bedsaul’s mother-in-law or husband, who attended a business trip to Las Vegas with Ms. Bedsaul,” Brown reported.
She said the documentation also shows disbursements by Rooftop employees “to employees for unnecessary or unattended travel and training.”
The informant also provided state police with documentation of loans given to employees out of Rooftop funds, which were allegedly used for personal gain.
“The loans were labeled ‘salary advances’ and were deducted from employees’ paychecks,” Brown wrote in her report. These loans were allegedly used to cover personal debts.
Since Sept. 30, Rooftop has been operating at its normal schedule, with department heads managing the agency.
Halsey said services have not been impacted by the investigation.