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The former Bedford County Board of Supervisors member, charged with embezzlement and money laundering, will be allowed to travel out of state as part of his bond agreement that was modified at a hearing last week.
A six month investigation by the Virginia State Police resulted in the arrest in June of Earl Anthony (Tony) Ware of Big Island. Ware is facing seven counts of embezzlement and seven counts of money laundering. The charges stemmed from Ware’s connection to the Big Island Fire Department and the estate of Hattie Routon.
At Friday’s hearing, Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James Updike agreed to modify Ware’s bond agreement, allowing him to travel to New Jersey and Tennessee to visit his daughter and his brother. Ware’s attorney, Mark Arthur, said during the hearing that he didn’t expect there to be more than a couple of trips prior to Ware’s trial, which is currently scheduled for Oct. 16.
Arthur stated that his client, now 66, was not a flight risk or a danger to the community.
The ruling went against the wishes of Botetourt County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney John Alexander, who argued against the bond modification, noting the nature of the alleged crimes, along with the amount of funds alleged to be involved.
Updike, however, stated it has been his general practice to grant such requests, adding that those who generally take the time to make the request in court are those who plan to return.
The Botetourt County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has been appointed as the special prosecutor in the case.
In a statement released by the Big Island Volunteer Fire Company following Ware’s arrest, the department stated that officers in the department began to notice financial discrepancies in late fall 2011. Because of those, the department contacted the Virginia State Police for an investigation, and contacted a private attorney to look over its interests.
Alexander said two of the charges against Ware pertain to Ware’s work with the Big Island Fire Company’s finances, four charges are in connection with a benefit held for children whose mother had died in which some funds came up missing and the rest were in connection with his service as co-executor of the estate. Alexander said the embezzlement charges stem from Ware allegedly taking the money while the money laundering charges relate to allegedly changing the status of that money.
The investigation has been ongoing since December 2011. Ware was released on $20,000 bond.