By Allen Worrell Editor
October 31, 2013
The Wytheville developer behind the Market Village in Hillsville and the failed Mayberry Opry has been indicted in Buchanan County for allegedly embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from a food pantry in that community.
Marshall Lineberry, who worked with Carroll County on multiple economic development ventures with company Weststar Investments, LLC., was indicted Oct. 15 in Buchanan County for four counts of embezzling more than $200 from COPE House, and one count of conspiracy to embezzle.
Geraldine Matney Yates, age 74, has also been indicted with the same offenses. A Buchanan County Circuit Court judge set bond for both Lineberry, 47, and Yates at $5,000 each on Oct. 18. Both are set to appear again in Dickenson County Court on Dec. 4.
According to the indictments, the alleged embezzlement activity transpired over a two-year period from January of 2011 through June of this year. Buchanan County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Arrington told The Carroll News the alleged embezzlement activity was originally investigated by the Virginia State Police before being turned over to his office.
He said “tens of thousands” of dollars are alleged to have been embezzled from COPE House, an organization he called “essentially a food pantry serving the underprivileged in our county.” The food pantry has since dissolved, he said.
Among the allegations in the case include funneling of cash for personal assets and liquidation of property donated to the food pantry for personal gain, Arrington added.
According to Arrington, the COPE House was a food pantry operated by Geraldine Yates and her husband, as well as some of their family, and other community volunteers. The Yates family was primarily the head of the organization, he said, adding that a third person of interest in the case passed away before a grand jury could have considered indicting the individual.
Lineberry’s Weststar Investments, along with Mended Wings Productions, was the only group to submit a proposal to develop a 91-acre, county-owned property off of Interstate 77’s Exit 14 in Hillsville in 2008. The group proposed The Mayberry Opry, a 600-seat music theater, on the land where the Carroll County Recreation Department currently sits. The proposal eventually fell through, however.
Since that time, Weststar Investments has developed the Market Village in Hillsville, an 8,000-square-foot facility with shops designed to complement the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market off I-77’s Exit 14. However, the Carroll County IDA allowed HATCO, LLC to assume the current note on the Market Village in December of 2012 rather than foreclose on the property.
Weststar Investments, which was allowed to develop the retail spaces on county land, was unable to repay $85,000 in financing provided by the IDA in exchange for a deed of trust, county officials said at the time.
During that period, RGM Erectors filed a complaint against Weststar, claiming the company had not paid RGM for its construction work on two buildings. According to court papers, a default judgment of $657,983 was issued against Weststar. Officials of the two companies then worked out a deal to deed the Market Village to HATCO, thus allowing HATCO to take over the financing.